Each asbestos fibre is comprised of millions of microscopic fibrils. When asbestos is damaged, fibres are broken apart and invisibly release fibrils into the air. The size of fibrils enables them to float in the air for prolonged periods, be inhaled into the lungs and potentially cause the development of incurable, fatal, asbestos-related diseases such as cancer and asbestosis.
The likelihood of developing asbestos related diseases increases by quantity, frequency and duration of exposure to asbestos fibres inside the lungs and whether a person is also a smoker. Asbestos related diseases typically develop decades after exposure.