It is impossible to identify asbestos by appearance alone. Handling asbestos is potentially dangerous, so contact a trained asbestos professional to remove any suspect material and examine it properly, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Asbestos in your home is not necessarily a cause for alarm, explains the EPA. Asbestos that is in good condition poses little or no health risk; however, asbestos that is damaged or worn releases fibers that may cause lung cancer or scarring of lung tissue, a condition doctors call asbestosis, if they are inhaled.
If you suspect that your home contains asbestos that is damaged or in need of repair, contact an accredited professional to analyze the material rather than handle it yourself. You also may want to have your home analyzed for asbestos by a professional if you are planning to remodel or do other interior repairs.
If you choose to try to remove material that you think is asbestos on your own, take precautions to protect yourself and others in the home. Make sure than no one else in the room with you while you're working, and cover the floor with a plastic sheet. Disturb the material only as much as necessary to obtain a sample, and turn off all heating or cooling systems while you work. Wear disposable gloves, and wash your hands thoroughly when you are done.