Asbestos – The Different Types

Asbestos comes in two different families called the serpentine and amphibole. The two families differ based on how their mineral crystals are structured. The mineral fibres in the serpentine asbestos family are layered in sheets while the mineral fibres of the amphibole asbestos are formed in chains.

Serpentine Asbestos

Serpentine asbestos is the most common form of asbestos found. This type of asbestos is also referred to as white asbestos. Chrysotile is the most popular asbestos used in construction. It is made of minerals that crystallize and create a serpentine pattern. This means that the minerals form sheets rather than chains. Chrysotile has been linked to many diseases related to the exposure of asbestos, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Amphibole Asbestos

There are five types of amphiboles asbestos. They include Actinolite, Tremolite, Antrhophyllite, Crocidolite, and Amosite. Actinolite is one of the rarest forms of asbestos. Actinolite is mostly found as a contaminant in other types of minerals and this type of asbestos was not commercially used. Amosite, also called brown asbestos, is named after the mines it came from in South Africa. Crocidolite has the nickname blue asbestos. This type of asbestos naturally occurs in the Soviet Union, Canada, South Africa, and Austria. Antrhophyllite is rare. It is generally only found as a contaminant of other minerals. Furthermore, as asbestos remains in the air for a while, very small particles can be traced all the time, but the number is so small that they have no effect.

Asbestos fibres are very durable, and this is one of the reasons they are resistant to fire and heat. Asbestos can also serve as a binder between other materials. These properties are the reasons that this material was used in thousands of different commercial, industrial, and consumer products through the years. The size and shape of the asbestos mean that they can become airborne easily and remain there for a long time.

Asbestos was banned from use nationally in 2003, which means that construction materials and large machinery constructed before this time could be dangerous. Asbestos removal services should be contacted by anyone who thinks they may have an issue. Removing asbestos is a tedious process that must be completed carefully. It is recommended that a professional be contacted to remove any material you think may be asbestos.  Attempting to remove the asbestos yourself can result in exposure, which may cause many health problems.

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