Asbestos is the name of a family of naturally occurring minerals that consists of silicates (chemical fragments of silicon and oxygen - a very common component of many minerals) and varying amounts of aluminum, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and sodium. Each asbestos mineral forms long, thin, needle-like fibres.
Asbestos is only a concern when the fibres become airborne. It is only when fibres are present in the air that people can inhale them.
Removing asbestos is specialized work. Except for the occasional very small job, outside removal contractors do all asbestos removal at Dalhousie.