Chrysotile Asbestos: Properties, Uses, and Risks for Safe Handling & Removal

Last Updated on January 23, 2023 by Dan

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction and other industries due to its fire-resistant properties. However, it has since been linked to a number of serious health issues, including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. As such, it is important for those who work with asbestos to receive proper training and education on how to safely handle and dispose of the material.

One type of asbestos that is commonly found in buildings and other structures is chrysotile, also known as white asbestos. In this article, we will discuss the properties of chrysotile, its uses, and the risks associated with exposure to the mineral.

Properties of Chrysotile

Chrysotile is the most common type of asbestos, accounting for approximately 95% of all asbestos found in buildings. It is a serpentine mineral, which means it has a long, fibrous structure. The fibres are typically white or light grey in colour, giving chrysotile its nickname of “white asbestos.”

Uses of Chrysotile

Chrysotile was widely used in construction, particularly in insulation and roofing materials. It was also used in brake linings, gaskets, and other industrial products. Due to its fire-resistant properties, chrysotile was particularly useful in the shipbuilding and automotive industries.

Risks Associated with Exposure to Chrysotile

While chrysotile is less hazardous than other types of asbestos, such as amphibole, it can still pose a significant risk to human health if inhaled. Exposure to chrysotile fibres can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. It is important to note that the risk of developing these diseases increases with the amount and duration of exposure to asbestos fibres.

Asbestos exposure can also lead to other health problems, such as pleural effusions (abnormal build-up of fluid in the pleural cavity) and pleural plaques (thickened, fibrous areas of tissue on the pleural lining). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Precautions and Regulations

Asbestos training is essential for anyone who may come into contact with the material. Proper handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos are crucial to minimising the risk of exposure. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires employers to identify and manage asbestos in their workplaces, and to provide information and training to employees who may be exposed to asbestos.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also recommends that asbestos surveys are carried out in order to identify any asbestos-containing materials in the building. If asbestos is found, it should be removed or encapsulated by a licensed contractor.

In addition, HSE recommends that all workers who may disturb asbestos during their work should be trained, and that employers should also provide them with information about the location and condition of any asbestos in the workplace.

Conclusion

Chrysotile, also known as white asbestos, is the most common type of asbestos found in buildings. While it is less hazardous than other types of asbestos, exposure to chrysotile fibres can still cause serious health issues such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis.

Asbestos training is crucial for those who may come into contact with the material, and proper handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos are essential to minimising the risk of exposure. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and guidance from HSE must be followed to ensure the safety of employees and the public.

Published Jan 23, 2023

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