What is asbestos made of?

We answer the question ‘What is asbestos made of?’

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 asbestos fibers are mainly made up of long chainS of silicon and oxygen, but also contain other elements such as magnesium and iron.

Asbestos is well known for it’s heat resistant and insulation qualities, and because it doesn’t conduct electricity.

In it’s pure form, not only is asbestos an excellent insulator, but it can also be mixed into cement, paper, plastic, cloth and other materials to make them stronger.

Asbestos is not 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 asbestos

This form of asbestos 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, this form of asbestos is known as serpentine or curly asbestos.

Chrysotile asbestos 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 asbestos.

Amphibole asbestos

There are actually several types of amphibole asbestos fibers.

These include amosite (brown asbestos), crocidolite (blue asbestos), anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.

Unlike chrysotile asbestos fibers, amphibole asbestos 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 asbestos fibers are dangerous to health as they can penetrate body tissue, especially within the lungs, and will eventually cause tumors to develop.

what is asbestos made of - the main asbestos types

the different types of serpentine and amphibole asbestos


Did you find our article on ‘what is asbestos made of’ interesting? Then check out our other posts below………

Whether you need an asbestos management survey, or a refurbishment/demolition survey, contact us on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting https://www.armco.org.uk/

Finally, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit https://www.armcoasbestostraining.co.uk/to book an asbestos awareness training course.

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Published Oct 29, 2018
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