Mesothelioma Attorneys

Types of Asbestos

Asbestos Cancer

Asbestos is not just one substance. The term refers to six fibrous minerals. These are naturally occurring and obtained by mining. There are more than 100 minerals which have fibers that are similar to asbestos fibers. Different types of asbestos have different common uses. They also have different levels of potential for causing illnesses such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Asbestos Minerals

The six minerals recognized by the U.S. government as asbestos are:

  • Chrysotile
  • Amosite
  • Crocidolite
  • Tremolite
  • Actinolite
  • Anthophyllite

Serpentine and Amphibole

There are two main groups of asbestos – serpentine and amphibole. They are classified by the physical characteristics of the fibers. Serpentine fibers are curly and flexible. Amphibole fibers are straight, needle-like, and more rigid.

Chrysotile is the only type of asbestos classified as serpentine. It is the most commonly commercially used type of asbestos. The majority of cases of asbestos-related illness are caused by chrysotile because of its heavy use.

Asbestos Uses

Chrysotile has been used in a multitude of applications including plastics, asphalt, brake pads, roofing, textiles, and much more. Chrysotile use has been banned in many countries, but can still be used legally in the U.S. It accounts for about 95% of the asbestos-containing materials found in the U.S.

Although chrysotile has caused more asbestos-related illness, it is not the most dangerous type of asbestos. Crocidolite is the most deadly form of asbestos. It is amphibole asbestos, and easily penetrated the body’s tissues. It is also known as blue asbestos because the fibers are blue in color. Crocidolite is primarily used in cement.

Amosite is the second-most dangerous type of asbestos, and used to be the second-most commonly used for industrial purposes. Even so, it did not come close to the heavy usage of chrysotile. Amosite has been banned in many countries, but was popular for use in insulation. Even where it is no longer used it can still be found in pre-existing buildings.

Termolite and anthophyllite may be found in talcum powder. Vermiculite may also be contaminated with termolite.

Actinolite has not been heavily used in commercial applications. Some types of actinolite are not fibrous and do not pose the usual asbestos-related health threats.