Asbestos starts life as a mineral found in certain rocks, mainly in South America. It is fibrous in nature and has fire retardant properties. Asbestos has been widely used as a building material for over 100 years. It can be found in cement pipes and sheets as a reinforcing agent. These asbestos cement products can be found in many schools, factories and homes. Asbestos was also used to make floor tiles and as insulation lagging on hot water pipes.