Can you taste asbestos?
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Can you taste asbestos?

Those who suspect they may have to work around asbestos — such as a renovation company that is tearing tile out of an old bathroom — often look for ways to identifying it. They want to know what the fibers look like, how they were used in certain products, what types of products to watch out for, and the like. 

With that in mind, can you taste it? The risk with asbestos comes when you swallow or inhale it, often with other dust. If you do that, will you taste anything that tells you it is asbestos, alerting you to the need for special masks and protective equipment?

Unfortunately, you cannot taste it. The particles are just too small. It may be dust, but it’s not the same as dust from, say, a table saw. The dust is very fine and has no taste, odor or even distinct appearance. You’re not going to cough or notice any irritation. In short, you can breathe these fibers in without having any idea that you’re doing so, which is part of what makes them so dangerous. 

If you do taste something, it is likely from the related materials. For instance, perhaps those bathroom tiles do have asbestos fibers embedded in them, simply because they’re so old that they were manufactured when asbestos still saw wide use. If you break them up with a sledgehammer to take them out of the bathroom, the dust you taste could be from the mortar between the tiles or the shattered pieces of the tile itself. But it won’t taste any different because of the asbestos. 

Those who develop serious complications after asbestos exposure may be able to seek compensation. There are funds available for many victims of asbestos exposure.