Types of Asbestos

Did you know that there are different types of asbestos? Six types have been identified, which are divided into two families: amphibole asbestos (which have straight, brittle fibers) and serpentine asbestos (which have flexible and curly fibers). There are five types of amphibole asbestos, but only one type of serpentine asbestos. 

Now that the health issues associated with asbestos exposure are well-documented, many people wonder why the material was originally used in so many manufactured goods. The answer becomes clear when you consider the resilient properties that this mineral has. 

Asbestos is resistant to fire, water, and chemicals; it’s strong; and it’s a sturdy insulator in many environments. This is why it was mined for hundreds of years. But since its adverse health effects were discovered, many countries have banned the use of asbestos. 

To learn more about these groups of minerals, how to identify them, and how harmful they are to humans, keep reading:

 

Actinolite Asbestos

Like other minerals in the amphibole group, actinolite asbestos fibers are needle-shaped, stiff, and straight. They contain minerals such as silicon, magnesium, and iron. Actinolite asbestos may be present in older homes and commercial properties. This dark mineral was typically used in building materials like cement, drywall, and insulation. Actinolite is found naturally in other minerals so it was often unintentionally included in products. 

 

Amosite Asbestos

As one of the second most commonly used types of asbestos, amosite asbestos is unfortunately also one of the most dangerous. Brown asbestos is associated with a higher risk of cancer due to the sharp fibers that can be inhaled easily. It was commonly found in products like roofing materials, tiles, and chemical or electrical insulation. Amosite asbestos was mined primarily in South Africa.

 

Anthophyllite Asbestos

Since this type of asbestos is harder to find, it wasn’t used as often in commercial products. Made of iron and magnesium, anthophyllite asbestos has a yellow or brown colour. It was used in products like rubber and cement.

 

Crocidolite

The thin and easily inhalable fibers of crocidolite, or blue asbestos, have claimed many lives. The bright blue colour might seem attractive, but this type of asbestos is incredibly hazardous. This is due to the thin fibers, which are fine and sharp, making them easy to breathe in. As a result, it’s suspected that crocidolite asbestos is more deadly than other asbestos types. However, it was used less often in products due to its low-quality heat resistance.

 

Tremolite Asbestos

This mineral is found in a wide range of colours including white, green, brown, and clear. Like actinolite asbestos, it was rare that people sought to mine tremolite asbestos specifically; it was used in products incidentally. Tremolite asbestos has been detected in talc (a mineral used in powders, perfumes, and flooring products) and vermiculite (used to manufacture packing materials and attic insulation).

 

Chrysotile Asbestos

If you have asbestos in your home, it’s most likely chrysotile asbestos, the most commonly used type of this mineral. Also known as white asbestos, it’s the only identified type of asbestos that belongs to the serpentine family. It often contains minerals from the amphibole family of asbestos as well.

Up to 95% of all asbestos used in the U.S. is chrysotile asbestos. Due to its flexibility and fireproof properties, chrysotile asbestos was used to manufacture a wide range of products, including:

  • Tiles
  • Brake pads
  • Drywall
  • Cement
  • Asphalt
  • And more

 

Are All Types of Asbestos Dangerous?

Yes. Although some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others, exposure to this mineral can always be hazardous. Both amphibole and serpentine asbestos fibers are carcinogenic to varying degrees. Health risks associated with inhaling these fibers include:

  • Cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestosis

Before lung diseases were known to result from asbestos exposure, the mineral was used to create all sorts of products, including building materials, fabrics, and automobile parts.

The risk of developing asbestos-related diseases increases if one is exposed to the mineral for a long time. People are most often exposed in an occupational setting. However, even short-term exposure is dangerous. When asbestos is disturbed, the fibers can be easily inhaled and may cause an illness years later.

 

Asbestos minerals occur naturally in countries around the world. It was mined and used for hundreds of years, and production has only slowed down recently. In Canada, the nationwide ban on asbestos was only implemented a handful of years ago.

This leaves many people concerned that their residences or everyday products could contain asbestos. If you plan to renovate your property, you may suspect that some of the building materials contain asbestos.

If you need Winnipeg asbestos removal, give us a call. We can safely remove the many types of asbestos materials from your home and/or business to give you peace of mind.