Asbestos is a generic term that refers to a group of magnesium silicates, six types of closely related mineral fibers. These fibers belong to two groups: serpentines and amphiboles. The serpentine group contains a single variety, chrysotile. Five varieties belong to the amphibole mineral group: anthophyllite; grunerite, also called amosite; riebeckite, also called crocidolite; tremolite; and actinolite.
All six forms share these properties: incombustibility (resistance to burning), resistance to biodegradation, low electrical conductivity, and chemical inertia, resistance to combining with other chemicals.
|Amosite||Amosite is an acronym for Asbestos Mines of South Africa and the trade name for grunerite, or brown asbestos.|
|Amphiboles||A group of closely related asbestos forms. Amphibole fibers are straight and needle-like, and more brittle than Chrysotile. The first research on fiber types suggested that amphiboles were the only asbestos fibers than caused cancer.|
|Anthophyllite||An amphibole asbestos|
Sometimes called "white asbestos." This form, is highly flexible, and can be woven and spun into fabrics. Its individual fibers are curly, and more flexible than amphiboles.
Over 90% of the asbestos used in the United States is Chrysotile asbestos, and it has been established of the major causes of asbestos-related diseases in the U.S. There is no safe level of exposure to chrysotile.
When inhaled Chrysotile fibers do not remain in the lungs, but migrate to the pleura, the lining of the lungs, the tissue where mesothelioma develops.
More recent research has established that Chrysotile fibers do in fact cause mesothelioma
|Crocidolite||An amphibole asbestos mined in Australia and Africa which is particularly toxic, and associated with mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases|
|Crystalline structure||A crystal is a solid whose molecules packed in a regularly ordered, repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. Salt, snowflakes, and diamonds are familiar examples of crystalline structures. Asbestos is composed of microscopic crystalline structures which are aggregated into bundles of fibers|
|Fibrous structure||Most varieties of asbestos have the appearance of bundles light, thin fibers that shear off easily.|
|Magnesium silicate||The mineral group of which all asbestos varieties are a part.|
|Serpentine asbestos||Another term for Chrysotile asbestos|
|Tremolite||An amphibole asbestos mined in the Tremola Valley of Switzerland|