Asbestos is a fibrous mineral with properties that make it heat and fire resistant and was used extensively prior to the discovery of the material being a high risk to human health. Unfortunately asbestos causes many health hazards and is notorious for causing lung problems such as Asbestosis (scarring of the tissue) Mesothelioma (a form a cancer of the mucous membranes of lungs and chest) and Lung Cancer. All dreadful and painful diseases.
The reason that Asbestos is so dangerous is because of the fibres which can become airborne and lodge into the lungs. Asbestos in home building materials does not become a health risk unless the material is deteriorating or disturbed producing dust that contains the asbestos fibres.
In the past, Asbestos was used as an insulator for buildings and many buyers are deterred if Asbestos is discovered in the home. A qualified building inspector should be able to find any signs of Asbestos during the inspection and give you a report and recommendation.
If your building inspector finds Asbestos it may not necessarily be dangerous, however make sure it is mentioned in the building report and negotiate with the vendor to reduce the price of the home and/or have an agreement that the vendor pays for an Asbestos removal specialist or to have the Asbestos encapsulated.
For building inspectors wishing to specialise in Asbestos and Mould please consider the Housesafe Mould and Asbestos Identification Course