All asbestos is dangerous! Defining the major types
Both homeowners and commercial property owners are now aware of the lurking danger of asbestos.
The increased awareness is attributed to a number of agencies and public organizations, who have worked hard for decades to define asbestos related health issues and disabilities. This has resulted in a ban on compounds in the asbestos group.
People often ask us if all forms of asbestos are dangerous. The simple answer is yes; however, it is not as simple as this. Some forms of it are more hazardous, some are known to cause health issues, and the exposure amount and manner can influence the effect too.
However, all forms can cause the most common asbestos related health problems, including asbestosis, lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, laryngeal cancer and ovarian cancer.
Leading organizations, such as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorize all asbestos types as cancer-causing. Let’s go over these types briefly to learn more:
1. Chrysotile asbestos
Chrysotile is the most common form, previously used in roofs, walls, ceilings and floors of many residential and commercial properties. It was also used in automobile pipe insulation, brake linings, boiler seals and gaskets.
Commonly referred to as white asbestos, this is the only type of serpentine asbestos. Chrysotile accounts for almost 95% of commercial asbestos used in the country.
2. Amosite asbestos
This form is also known as brown asbestos, and is mostly used in Africa. It was often used in pipe insulation, cement sheet, ceiling tiles, insulating board and thermal insulation products.
It belongs to the amphibole asbestos family which has characteristic needle-like fibers.
3. Crocidolite asbestos
This one is called blue asbestos, mostly mined in Australia, Bolivia and South Africa. It has the least heat resistance and was used for insulating steam engines. Furthermore, this form of asbestos was also used in pipe insulation, spray-on coatings and cement products.
4. Tremolite asbestos
Tremolite can be green, gray, white or transparent. Although this wasn’t commercially used, it was a common contaminant of chrysotile asbestos, talc powders and vermiculite.
Occasionally, other asbestos-containing such as pipes, paints, roofing materials and sealants also carried tremolite contamination.
5. Anthophyllite asbestos
This is gray-brown in color and is commonly mined in Finland. Like Tremolite, it was also not used commercially but found as a contaminant. It is often found in composite flooring.
6. Actinolite asbestos
It has a harsh texture and is less flexible than others. Often found in metamorphic rock, it was also never used commercially. However, some asbestos products may have it as a contaminant.
While as many as 52 countries have now banned the use of these common types of asbestos, these are still present in older buildings. Asbestos exposure is thus a danger lurking in the shadows.
It is often suggested that you get the asbestos testing done, so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent possible exposure.