Asbestos has been used in thousands of products all over the world, and with its associated health risks, this makes it a very serious threat. There is a wide range of products that incorporate asbestos into their makeup and this makes it very hard to remove all of the risks. The application that it had in building makes it particularly hard to get rid of, as removing structural elements can be expensive and tedious.
Asbestos is relatively easy to extract and available in large quantities. It also makes an extremely effective fire retardant and is very strong when mixed with materials such as types of cement or plastics. Therefore, it has an extremely wide variety of applications, especially in construction.
Products that contain asbestos range from home appliances like toasters, popcorn poppers, irons and crock pots to building materials such as ceiling tiles, roof tiles, putties, cement pipes and gaskets. However, since use of asbestos was banned in South Africa in 2008, all household appliances have stopped using asbestos. Most international manufacturers have also stopped using it even before the legislation was passed in South Africa.
In construction, asbestos has many applications both internally and externally. The most infamous example of this is most likely corrugated asbestos roof sheets.
Because of the cost of structural changes to the building, the risk of asbestos has remained in many industrial areas. It would be a worthwhile exercise to identify if your residence or office contains asbestos and get it removed. Any building built before 2008 could potentially contain some form of asbestos.
Please note however, that you can presume that a structure contains asbestos just from looking at it but you can’t be certain without having a sample sent off to a lab or having a licensed professional come to look at it.