What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the collective name for a range of minerals found in rocks. These minerals have been used extensively in various industries due to their remarkable properties, despite the hidden danger they pose. The asbestos minerals are often found in veins in the rock (in a similar way in which gold is found in veins in quartz).

Types of Asbestos:

TThere are six primary types of asbestos, each with its unique characteristics. Among them, three were widely employed in building products, while the others are less common:

Chrysotile (White Asbestos): Chrysotile is the most common and widely used form of asbestos. It is part of the serpentine mineral family and has long, curly fibers. Its flexibility made it a popular choice for a range of applications.

Amosite (Brown Asbestos): Amosite belongs to the amphibole group of asbestos minerals and is known for its brownish color. It was often used in cement sheets and pipe insulation.

Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos): Crocidolite is another member of the amphibole group, recognized by its deep blue fibers. Despite being less common, it was favored for its heat resistance and durability.

The remaining three types of asbestos, namely Anthophyllite, Actinolite, and Tremolite, are less frequently encountered in asbestos-containing materials. These minerals are also part of the amphibole group and share similar hazardous properties.

Fibrous Crystalline Structure:

One of the defining characteristics of asbestos minerals is their fibrous crystalline structure. These minerals consist of long, thin fibers that are invisible to the naked eye but can become airborne when disturbed. This airborne asbestos poses significant health risks when inhaled, as the microscopic fibers can become lodged in the lungs, leading to severe health problems.