What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which is mined from the ground.

It is found in seams within rock and forms thin crystalline fibres.

There are six fibrous asbestos types which are split into two categories. 

The first is the Serpentine group which comprises only of Chrysotile or White Asbestos.

This is a very flexible fibre which is often woven into fabrics and textiles.

The second group is the Amphibole group which includes the remaining five asbestos types, the most common being:

Amosite or Fibrous Grunerite

(which is more commonly referred to as Brown Asbestos)

&

Crocidolite or Fibrous Riebeckite

(commonly known as Blue Asbestos)

These are a very straight rigid fibre and can be common within many different building materials from boards and cements to insulation and composite materials.

There are also a further three less commonly known Amphibole types which are:

Tremolite

Anthropholite

Actinolite

Although rarer, these last three asbestos types are still considered to be just as harmful as Crocidolite.

The main reason for the widespread use of asbestos is due to its multiple useful properties, such as: 

Excellent thermal insulation properties

Non-Flammable

Excellent electrical insulation properties

Resistance to strong acid and alkali 

High tensile strength

Unfortunately, it is these properties which make asbestos so hazardous to health.

When Asbestos is disturbed and the fibres themselves break, they shatter into millions of microscopic fibres which can be easily inhaled. Once inside the body, their resistance to acid, heat and pressure make them impossible for the body to break down. It is this which then leads to diseases such as Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma  

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