Types of Asbestos
Asbestos is the commercial term for a group of 6 naturally occurring mineral fibres, officially these are 6 regulated asbestos. The asbestos fibres fall into two groups – serpentine and amphibole. Serpentine fibres appear curly while amphibole fibres tend to be straight and needle-shaped.
Chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos and is the main commercial form of asbestos used worldwide. Chrysotile is the only serpentine form of asbestos and is known as “white asbestos”. It can be found in roofs, ceilings, walls and floors in homes and buildings.
Amosite (brown asbestos) falls under the amphiboles. It was typically used in pipe insulation and cement sheets. Today, amosite may be found in ceiling tiles and insulation products such as insulating board.
Crocidolite, known as “blue asbestos”, is considered the most hazardous of the amphiboles. It was used to insulate steam engines and was also added to spray-on coatings, pipe insulation and cement products.
Anthophyllite, brown to yellow in colour, is the rarest of the amphiboles and thus, was used in small quantities. It may be found in some insulation products and construction materials.
Actinolite was not commercially used but has been found in trace amounts in chrysotile, vermiculite and talc. Actinolite ranges in colour from brown, green, white or transparent. Actinolite may be found in products like cement, sealant and insulation material.
Actinolite and Tremolite are often referred to as sister amphiboles because they share a lot of the same characteristics. Like Actinolite, this amphibole was not commercially used. Tremolite can also be found in trace amounts in chrysotile, vermiculite and talc. Tremolite ranges in colour from white to green and has been found in paint, sealant, insulation and roofing materials.