Asbestos and Lead Information

Asbestos: Types and Risks

The EPA warns that exposure to any of the known types of asbestos is harmful, and prolonged exposure results in long-term disabilities and even death. When most people hear asbestos, they automatically think of the health risks associated with exposure. However, few people are aware asbestos is a plant that grows in the wild and that the fibers are still being used to manufacture products in the United States and around the world.

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asbestos workers

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is found in several forms throughout the world. Historians are not aware of where the name originally came from, but they believe it may have come from the Greek word “asbestos,” meaning unquenchable or inextinguishable. One of the key properties of asbestos is its ability to provide exceptional insulation.

Archeologists have found asbestos dating back to the Stone Age. That means asbestos has been growing on the planet for more than 750,000. Various forms of silicate fiber are found in plants throughout the world.

Types of Asbestos

There are six types of asbestos recognized by the EPA. All of the six types fall into two categories, serpentine and amphibole asbestos. Below there are descriptions of the six types of asbestos.

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1. Chrysotile Asbestos

Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos. Manufacturers used this form to make brake lining, gaskets, roof tiles, floor tiles, boiler seals, and pipe, duct, and appliance insulation for businesses and homes. Chystolite is often referred to as “white asbestos,” and it is categorized as serpentine asbestos.

Chrysolite is the only asbestos used in manufactured products today.

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2. Amosite Asbestos

Amosite asbestos is also known as “brown asbestos.” According to the EPA, amosite is the second most common form of fiber found in the United States. The American Cancer Society warns that amosite exposure creates a higher risk for cancer in comparison to chrysotile asbestos. Below are a few of the places you may find amosite:

• Cement sheets
• Ceiling tiles
• Fireproofing insulation
• Kent Micronite cigarette filters
• Acid storage battery casings
• Vinyl floor tiles

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3. Crocidolite Asbestos

Distinctive crocidolite is the most dangerous asbestos. The straight blue fibers are recognizable. The hazardous building additive is found throughout Australia, Bolivia, and South Africa in steam engine insulation, cement pipes, insulation, and spray-on coatings, where it was used freely.

Distinctive Blue Fiber Crocidolite

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4. Tremolite Asbestos

Tremolite Sample
Researchers believe tremolite causes autoimmune diseases like lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and others. Less is known about whether autoimmune diseases are an early sign of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Tremolite is found in an array of hues, from transparent to opaque.

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5. Anthophyllite Asbestos

An amphibole, usually gray, off-white, or brown. Anthophyllite fibers are like chains. Or, sometimes, found in a pear cluster with streaks of gray. A rare form found primarily in Finland.

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6. Actinolite Asbestos

Actinolite asbestos is green. The depth of color depends on the iron content in the specimen. This form was never commercially used, but it is found in other products that are contaminated by it.

Do you need more information on asbestos? Contact a knowledgeable Green Ready professional to discuss your asbestos maintenance needs.