Types of Asbestos

Asbestos is commonly known as the silent killer but how much do you really know about it? Asbestos regulations are high and as they should be, many people have died over the years due to being exposed to Asbestos. However there are different types of Asbestos, 6 unique substances to be exact. These materials belong to the serpentine & amphibole mineral families: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite & actinolite. These terms are referred from the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).


Chrysotile, one of the most commonly known asbestos can be found in most roofs, walls, floors and ceilings in businesses, homes and schools. This is what people refer to as white asbestos and is used heavily in cement, insulation, brake pads & linings and roof materials. This type of asbestos is the one health and safety consultants have to deal with the most due to its common use in manufacturing between 1896 & 1965.


Amosite, This is what people refer to as brown asbestos. It originates from Africa and was mostly used in cement sheet, pipe and insulation products. Like other forms of this dangerous material, it has needle-shaped fibres. This type of asbestos creates a higher risk of cancer in comparison with other types of asbestos. Roughly 80,000 tons of amosite was mined from the Transvaal province in South Africa by 1970.


Crocidolite, Known as blue asbestos it has very low heat resistance. Mostly from Australia and used to insulate steam engines, it was then bough across and commonly used in pipe insulation, cement products and spray on coatings. This type of asbestos has some of the highest regulations due to its specially thin fibres as these have resulted in more deaths from asbestos related illness than any other type. Hence the extensive asbestos regulations that are around today.


Tremolite this type of asbestos is not so commonly used at a commercial level, usually as a contaminant in chrysotile asbestos. Found in asbestos containing paint, roofing materials & sealants. This type of asbestos comes in an array of colours and can be green, grey, white and sometimes transparent.


Anthophyllite, Mined predominantly in Finland this type is a grey brownish colour. This type was not commercially used and was again a contaminant off the back of another type of asbestos, Anthophyllite is often found in composite flooring.


Actinolite Asbestos is dark in colour and is especially dangerous because of how it can come in multiple forms, it can be dense and compact or fibrous and brittle, along with the fact it is usually a dark colour but not specified to a specific dark colour, it can be green, grey, brown and sometimes white. Found in fire proofing, concrete materials, gardening and insulation materials, often in sealants, paints and dry wall. It was even used to make children's toys at one point due to its flexible compound structure and therefore is one of the most difficult types of asbestos removal. Actinolite is a harsh textured asbestos type and found in metamorphic rock, it is not flexible and is incredibly strong. Used in talc & vermiculite. 

Interesting fact;

The sale, distribution or production of Asbestos is illegal in the following countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Poland, Slovenia, Italy, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Luxembourg. 

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