Asbestos is a mineral fiber component in various construction materials such as those used for insulation, floor boards, tiles, shingles and fire-retardants. The use of asbestos has been greatly reduced because asbestos-containing products that have been damaged release toxic asbestos fibers into the air. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified asbestos as a hazardous air pollutant in 1971. People exposed to asbestos are at risk for serious health problems — including cancer — which can erupt between ten to forty years after exposure.