Asbestos was once called a miracle material because of its toughness and fire-resistant properties. It was used as insulation, incorporated into cement and even woven into firemen’s protective clothing. Over time, however, scientists pinned the cause of lung cancers such as mesothelioma on asbestos fiber inhalation. Asbestos was banned in the many industrialized countries in the 1980s, but the threat lingers on in the ceilings, walls and floors of old buildings and homes. Now a team of researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the U.K. has developed and tested the first portable, real-time airborne asbestos detector.