You worry about asbestos exposure from something as simple as the the dust in the air at work. You breathe it in every day. If it contains asbestos, are you constantly putting even a small amount into your lungs? Inhaling asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma and related disorders that can be fatal.
What you wonder, then, is if you would be able to taste it. Is there anything you should look for or any red flag that can tip you off that the dust may be dangerous?
Unfortunately, it is not always that easy to identify asbestos. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), there is no detectable taste strongly linked to asbestos fibers. Asbestos also does not have any distinct odor that you can detect, so you’re not going to smell anything.
That said, there are characteristics you can look for. The ATSDR notes that “asbestos minerals consist of thin, separable fibers that have a parallel arrangement.” White asbestos is the type you will most often find in commercial applications, though it is certainly not the only type.
The fibers are fire-resistant and heat-resistant. They also resist chemicals and they do not suffer from extensive biological degradation. If they are put in water, they will not dissolve.
The key is to remember that there are many types of asbestos, and it may be hard to detect. Do not rely on something as simple as taste or smell. If you have any worries about asbestos, professional identification is recommended. If you end up suffering from mesothelioma or anything else as a result, be sure you know your legal options.