Turns out, it was asbestos. And I did breathe it in. Not a lot, but there you go. I’m more worried about the contractors who were down on their knees cutting into it with power saws blowing dust up into their uncovered faces.
There is no clear evidence that this one-time exposure will eventually kill. Long-term exposure to other toxins like lawn pesticide is probably way more dangerous. Yet I was shaken this weekend. I felt I’d been living blissfully unaware near the Chernobyl nuclear site — only to be told later the whole place was contaminated. So my contractor has agreed to clean up my house, and we move on.