Asbestos is very dangerous when it gets into the air and you inhale the particles. These particles can cause lung damage, respiratory issues and mesothelioma, which is a type of cancer. It is often fatal and that attacks the body very aggressively.
Not breathing in those particles is critical, and many people assume that a standard dust mask will be enough. It's a heavy, stiff cloth mask that carpenters often wear when working with planners and sanders to keep from breathing in wood particles.
A dust mask is great at what it's supposed to do, which is blocking traditional dust. However, it is not enough to stop asbestos particles. Wearing a simple mask from Lowe's or Home Depot isn't going to give you the protection you need or ensure that you don't develop mesothelioma.
That doesn't mean they won't stop anything, but they're just not sufficient. Don't trust them. Asbestos particles can and do get through and around the mask. Don't assume that just having any mask on -- or pulling the neck of your shirt up to cover your mouth -- is enough.
Instead, you need a full respirator that filters all of the air before you breathe it. It should have a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorber) filter designed for use with asbestos. This has been shown to effectively protect people from the particles in the air, though it's naturally best not to work with asbestos at all.
Have you developed mesothelioma or other such issues after being exposed to asbestos? If so, it is important for you to know all of the legal options at your disposal.
Source: Mesothelioma.com, "Dust Masks," accessed Jan. 12, 2018