Asbestos is a fibrous material, used as an insulation method in homes prior to the 1990s here in Australia. Asbestos can cause serious health issues if the toxic fibres are ingested. Asbestos is not a new material, it has a long history, and is now banned from being used Australia. There are strict rules surrounding asbestos usage and disposal, and heavy penalties if not complied with. There are three major types of asbestos and three minor forms, below we discuss the characteristics of each.
The Three Main Types of Asbestos
Chrysotile (White Asbestos): This is the most common type of asbestos. These fibres are very heat resistant, meaning it excellent for usage in cement and roofing materials. It is also very flexible and fine in texture.
Amosite (Brown Asbestos): Amosite is primarily mined in Africa. It is the most dangerous of all asbestos types because it has the highest risk for Cancer. Amosite is very strong and heat resistant. It was commonly used in insulation.
Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos): Crocidolite possesses very thin fibres that when inhaled, lodge in the lungs. This form of asbestos is dangerous because it is brittle and can easily break down, meaning exposure to asbestos fibres is far more likely.
Other Types of Asbestos
There are three other types of asbestos that you might come across. These are often found contaminating commercial asbestos.
Tremolite: These fibres are typically found in Chrysolite, and in paint, insulation and sealants. It can be found in multiple colours including white and green. It has multiple purposes and can be made into cloth.
Actinolite: These fibres are dark in colour and often lightweight. There are many forms of it from brittle to dense. It is commonly found in paints, drywall, and because of its ability to expand when heated, is used as insulation and fire proofing.
Anthophyllite: This fibre is grey/ brown in colour. The risk of developing mesothelioma is lower for Anthophyllite, but there is still a link. It was often used in talcum powder.
If you are unsure whether or not a material you have is asbestos, ensure to have it tested for asbestos.