Asbestos is a category of naturally occurring minerals made up of tiny fibers. There are many different types of asbestos. Several types have incredible and useful properties and have been mined and used in a variety of household and industrial products. Asbestos is now infamous for its damaging effects on health and ability to cause mesothelioma. There are three main types of asbestos that cause mesothelioma.
Chrysotile asbestos is also known as white asbestos and is the most commonly used type of asbestos. Chrysotile fibers are serpentine or curly and more flexible in its uses than the other types of asbestos. Because of their shape and flexibility it is more difficult for these fibers to lodge into the lungs than it is for other types of asbestos. Although technically less dangerous, chrysotile asbestos has been proven to cause mesothelioma and was widely used in the United States for decades.
Chrysotile has been used in many different types of products including, insulation materials, cement, joint compounds and plasters, floor tiles and floor tile adhesives, electrical products, gaskets and packing, pipes, brakes and other friction material, roofing felts and compounds, and more.
Crocidolite asbestos is known as blue asbestos because of its blue hue. It is the least commonly used type of asbestos but it is also the most dangerous. Crocidolite is part of the amphibole class of asbestos because of its needle-like characteristics. Its physical properties make it easy for fibers to become stuck in the lungs where it could cause mesothelioma or other types of cancers and diseases.
Crocidolite asbestos is primarily found in South Africa and Australia but is no longer being mined because of its devastating health effects. Crocidolite asbestos has mostly been used in cement products, including various brands of cement pipe.
Amosite is the commercially sold form of a mineral called grunerite. It is also known as brown asbestos and has been primarily used as a fire retardant. Like Crocidolite, Amosite is a part of the amphibole family of asbestos. It is easy for these fibers to stick into the lungs, where they could cause cancer to develop.
Amosite is known as friable, meaning that it crumbles easily. When the asbestos crumbles, the fibers are be released into the air where it can be breathed in. It has been used to make products such as ceiling tiles, pipe insulation, fire-proofing materials, and cement sheets.