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Origin, List And Explanation On Types Of Asbestos

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Origin, List And Explanation On Types Of Asbestos

Origin Of Asbestos

Where Can Asbestos Be Gotten From?

It remain a fact that Asbestos is gotten from all over the world, the major exporters are Russia, Kazakhstan and China. This harmful mineral was once mined all over North America.

Asbestos might be found or located in large deposits or as contaminates in other minerals such as talc and vermiculite. Chrysotile asbestos is usually found as veins within serpentine rock.

While most commercial asbestos deposits contain 5% to 6% asbestos, some deposits, such as the Coalinga deposit in California, contain 50% or more asbestos.

Types of Asbestos

Technically speaking, “Asbestos” is a commercial and legal term encompassing multiple types of minerals. The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) classifies the asbestiform varieties of the following minerals as asbestos:

Asbestos consist of six unique minerals which are as follows:

  1. Chrysotile
  2. Amosite
  3. Crocidolite
  4. Anthophyllite
  5. Tremolite and Actinolite

The listed above all belong to the serpentine and amphibole families.

Chrysotile Asbestos:

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Chrysotile which is also known as white asbestos is the most commonly used form of asbestos. It can be found and located today in the roofs, ceilings, walls and floors of homes and businesses. Manufacturers also used chrysotile asbestos in automobile brake linings, gaskets and boiler seals, and insulation for pipes, ducts and appliances.

Chrysotile was made used of in the vast majority of the myriad asbestos-containing products manufactured in the United States during the 20th century. The United States and Canada were once major producers and manufacturers of the toxic mineral.

Naturally occurring deposits of chrysotile are often accompanied by trace amounts of amphibole types of asbestos, which increase its toxicity. Nevertheless, exposure to chrysotile asbestos fibers alone still creates a serious risk of developing a life-threatening illness. The NIOSH has concluded people should treat chrysotile asbestos with the same level of concern as other forms of asbestos.

Chrysotile Asbestos-Containing Products Include:

  • Adhesives
  • Brake pads
  • Cement
  • Drywall
  • Fireproofing
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Vinyl tiles

Amosite Asbestos:

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Amosite commonly known as brown asbestos was used most frequently in cement sheets and pipe insulation. It can also be found or located in insulating board, ceiling tiles and thermal insulation products.

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Amosite, or “brown asbestos,” was discovered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be the second most commonly used type of asbestos in the United States. In its natural state, amosite is known as grunerite, and it was mainly mined in South Africa. According to the American Cancer Society, exposure to amosite asbestos creates a higher risk of cancer in comparison with common chrysotile asbestos.

Amosite Asbestos-Containing Products Include:

  • Cement sheets
  • Fire protection
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation
  • Roofing products
  • Vinyl tiles

Crocidolite Asbestos:

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Crocidolite (blue asbestos) was commonly used to insulate steam engines. It was also used in some spray-on coatings, pipe insulation, plastics and cement products.

Crocidolite might be accountable for more deaths than any other type of asbestos, because its fibers are very thin, thereby causing them to lodge more easily in lung tissue. The most common mining sites for this type of asbestos were Bolivia, Australia and South Africa.

Crocidolite Asbestos-Containing Products Include:

  • Acid storage battery casings
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Cement sheets
  • Fireproofing
  • Insulation
  • Kent Micronite cigarette filters

Anthophyllite Asbestos:

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Anthophyllite was used in limited quantities for insulation products and construction materials. It also occurs as a contaminant in chrysotile asbestos, vermiculite and talc. It might have a grey, dull green or white color.

Anthophyllite is one of the scarce types of asbestos and does not have a long history of commercial use. The mining of this mineral began in Finland. Smaller deposits were mined in various other countries around the world.

Anthophyllite Asbestos-Containing Products Include:

  • Cement
  • Insulation
  • Roofing
  • Rubber

Tremolite and Actinolite Asbestos:

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Tremolite and Actinolite are not used commercially, but they can be found or located as contaminants in chrysotile asbestos, vermiculite and talc. These two chemically similar minerals can be brown, white, green, gray or transparent.

Unlike with the commercial forms of asbestos, manufacturers rarely intended to include tremolite or actinolite in their products. Instead, traces of these types of asbestos were extracted when other minerals were being mined. However, even incidental contamination by amphibole forms of asbestos is still hazardous enough to cause asbestos-related illnesses.

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Conclusion On Types of Asbestos

The AHERA gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permission to regulate these six types of asbestos 1986, and more than 50 countries have banned them completely.

However, the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have since recognized a number of other asbestos-like minerals that are not yet restricted or regulated. For example, winchite, richterite, erionite and taconite are all minerals containing asbestiform fibers with the potential to cause serious health problems.

In July 2020, a U.K. study successfully identified different types of asbestos in mesothelioma samples using a type of mass spectrometry, which identifies compounds by measuring their molecular weight. Researchers said the discovery can be used to help diagnose mesothelioma and prove the cancer was caused by asbestos exposure.


Are All Asbestos Dangerous To The Health?

While some types of asbestos may be more risky than others, all are dangerous. Making health agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, to conclude and classify all types of asbestos as cancer-causing substances.

All the identified forms of asbestos can lead to asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer and other serious diseases.

Some agencies, such as the Health Protection Agency in the U.K., declare amphibole varieties of asbestos are the most dangerous forms. The EPA has left projects pointing to acknowledge which asbestos fiber types are the most toxic to human health, because the overall regulation of asbestos and asbestiform minerals is a more pressing priority.

Families Of Asbestos

There are two mineral families of Asbestos which are listed and explained as follows:

Serpentine Asbestos:

Serpentine asbestos is the family of Asbestos that has curly fibers made up of sheets of crystals. The single type of asbestos from the serpentine family, chrysotile, has historically accounted for more than 95% of all asbestos used around the whole world.

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Amphibole Asbestos:

Amphibole asbestos is the family of Asbestos that has needle-shaped fibers. Studies assume it takes much less exposure to amphibole asbestos to cause cancer, compared to serpentine asbestos. Amosite and crocidolite are the most commercially valuable types of amphibole asbestos, while anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite are considered noncommercial forms.

Asbestos-Contained Minerals

What are the minerals that may contain Asbestos?

Asbestiform minerals naturally occur in many types of geological formations. Generally, businesses mined asbestos intentionally to make use of its unique properties, but there have also been cases where companies mined other types of mineral resources that naturally contained a small percentage of asbestos. The most significant cases of this contamination center on talc and vermiculite products.


Talc is the softest known mineral on earth and is used in numerous products including chalk, crayons, paint, rubber, cosmetics, ceramics and pharmaceuticals. Most famously, manufacturers make use of this mineral for making talcum powder (commonly known as baby powder). Consumers have sought legal counsel over asbestos exposure from personal hygiene products. There are no federal laws requiring talcum powder products to be asbestos-free.


Vermiculite is a mineral that can be “popped” like popcorn when heated in a process called exfoliation. This results in a light-weight material useful for insulation, packaging and soil improvement. Vermiculite itself is harmless, but unfortunately much of the vermiculite mined in the United States during the 20th century contained highly toxic tremolite asbestos.

More than 70 percent of the vermiculite sold in the United States between 1919 and 1990 came from mining operations near the town of Libby, Montana — now the site of the longest running environmental cleanup operation in the EPA’s history. W.R. Grace and Company sold the tremolite-contaminated vermiculite from these mines as Zonolite attic insulation, putting millions of American homeowners at risk of asbestos exposure.


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