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Asbestos is in the headlines a lot nowadays because of its association with deadly diseases such as mesothelioma, and we are often asked the question ‘what is asbestos made of?’
So to answer your question, we’ve decided to put this informative article together.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral substance that is found as groups of fibers in the earth’s soil and rocks all over the world.
These fibers are mainly made up of long chains of silicon and oxygen, but also contain other elements such as magnesium and iron.
The fibers are well known for their heat resistant and insulation qualities, and because they don’t conduct electricity.
In it’s pure form, not only is this material an excellent insulator, but it can also be mixed into cement, paper, plastic, cloth and other materials to make them stronger.
Not just one single type of mineral, the name ‘asbestos’ actually refers to a group of silicate minerals with the same fibrous nature.
Although there are 6 different asbestos types, they can actually be categorised into 2 main types as follows:-
Chrysotile is also commonly known as ‘white asbestos‘ and is by far the most common type used in industrial applications.
Because of how it appears when viewed underneath a microscope, it is also known as serpentine or curly asbestos.
Chrysotile fibers tend to wrap around themselves in a spiral.
It’s fibers are both soft and flexible, and so they do less damage to body tissue than other forms of this hazardous substance.
There are actually several types of amphibole fibers.
These include amosite (brown), crocidolite (blue), anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.
Unlike chrysotile fibers, amphibole fibers appear straight and needle like when viewed under a microscope.
They are characterized by having very strong and stiff fibers, making them very hazardous to health.
Amphibole fibers are dangerous to health as they can penetrate body tissue, especially within the lungs, and will eventually cause tumors to develop.
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