Asbestos is a mineral that is found in certain rock formations and in some countries still mined from open pit mines. You may be surprised to learn that small amounts of asbestos can be found almost everywhere. Asbestos is in the air, soil, and evin water. Because of this everyone has been exposed to asbestos at some time. The asbestos may be in drinking water and often in the air at very low levels.
Fortunately the asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma or asbestosis usually occur in people who have worked with fairly high levels of asbestos for a long time. They were also not protected from breathing in the asbestos fibers or dust.
Canada is the only industrialized country that still mines asbestos (chrysotile or white asbestos), and it is the second largest exporter of asbestos in the world (after Russia). Mining also occurs in Zimbabwe and South Africa. We should all work towards the goal of banning asbestos worldwide since there are other products available that do not have the same health risks for workers or consumers.