Before now, a lot of people from different local circumstance has been dumbfounded on the Types of Asbestos. Some still believe that there is more to that where some believe that such does not exist.
But apparently on this very article, I’ll be sharing with you the major types of asbestos you should really know, but before we get started; let’s look at what asbestos is.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral that was predominantly used as a building material. Materials made with asbestos are strong, incombustible, heat-resistant and sound-absorbent, making asbestos an attractive material for electrical and building insulation, among other uses.
Asbestos is a term used to refer to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. All are composed of long and thin fibrous crystals, each fiber is composed of many microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released into the atmosphere by abrasion and other processes.
Also, asbestos is an excellent electrical insulator and is highly resistant to heat, so for many years, it was used as a building material.
However, it is a well-known health hazard, and today its use as a building material is banned in many countries. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to various serious lung conditions, including asbestosis and cancer.
The word “asbestos”, first used in the 1600s, ultimately derives from the Ancient Greek ἄσβεστος, meaning “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”.
The name reflects the use of the substance for wicks that would never burn up. It was adopted via the Old French asbestos, which in turn got the word from Greek via Latin, but in the original Greek, it actually referred to quicklime. It is said by the Oxford English Dictionary to have been wrongly used by Pliny for asbestos, who popularized the misnomer.
Asbestos was referred to in Greek as amiantos, meaning “undefiled”, because it was not marked when thrown into a fire. This is the source of the word for asbestos in many languages, such as the Portuguese amianto.
It had also been called “amiant” in English in the early 15th century, but this usage was superseded by “asbestos”. The word is pronounced.
Types of Asbestos
The term asbestos refers to six unique minerals belonging to two mineral families, serpentine and amphibole. All forms of asbestos are highly toxic, and exposure can lead to the development of many terminal diseases, such as mesothelioma.
The three main types of asbestos that you may come across whilst carrying out building work are:
Chrysotile (white asbestos):
Chrysotile is the most commonly used type of asbestos and is often contaminated with trace amounts of tremolite. Chrysotile fibers are usually fine in texture, possessing high flexibility and good heat resistant properties, making it ideal for use in cement, brake pads/linings and roofing materials.
Chrysotile is obtained from serpentinite rocks which are common throughout the world. Its idealized chemical formula is Mg 3 (Si2 O 5)(OH ) 4. Chrysotile appears under the microscope as a white fiber. Chrysotile has been used more than any other type and accounts for about 95% of the asbestos found in buildings in America.
Chrysotile is more flexible than amphibole types of asbestos and can be spun and woven into the fabric. The most common use was corrugated asbestos cement roofing primarily for outbuildings, warehouses, and garages.
It may also be found in sheets or panels used for ceilings and sometimes for walls and floors. Chrysotile has been a component in joint compound and some plasters. Numerous other items have been made containing chrysotile including brake linings, fire barriers in fuseboxes, pipe insulation, floor tiles, residential shingles, and gaskets for high-temperature equipment.
Amosite (brown asbestos):
Mined mostly in Africa, amosite is a particularly strong and heat-resistant type of asbestos that was commonly used in cement sheet, plumbing insulation, and electrical insulation. Though all types of asbestos are toxic, amosite asbestos exposure has a comparatively higher cancer risk.
Amosite often referred to as brown asbestos, is a trading name for the amphiboles belonging to the cummingtonite – grunerite solid solution series, commonly from South Africa, named as a partial acronym for “Asbestos Mines of South Africa”.
One formula given for amosite is Fe 7 Si 8 O 22(OH) 2. Amosite is seen under a microscope as a grey-white vitreous fiber. It is found most frequently as a fire retardant in thermal insulation products, asbestos insulating board, and ceiling tiles.
Crocidolite (blue asbestos):
Crocidolite has very thin fibers and, if inhaled, are easily lodged in the lungs. It’s thin fibers and brittle nature make crocidolite one of the most harmful forms of asbestos, as it easily breaks down and leads to asbestos exposure.
Crocidolite, commonly known as blue asbestos, is the fibrous form of the amphibole riebeckite, found primarily in southern Africa, but also in Australia and Bolivia. One formula given for crocidolite is Na 2 Fe II 3 Fe III 2 Si8 O 22 (OH) 2. Crocidolite is seen under a microscope as a blue fiber. Crocidolite commonly occurs as soft friable fibers.
Asbestiform amphibole may also occur as soft friable fibers but some varieties such as amosite are commonly straighter. All forms of asbestos are fibrillar in that they are composed of fibers with breadths less than 1 micrometer in bundles of very great widths. Asbestos with particularly fine fibers is also referred to as “amianthus”.
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