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What is Asbestos exactly?

Asbestos is a natural fibrous mineral that was mainly used in the 1950’s until the 80’s as a building material. It is mined in countries to this day including Brazil, Russia South Africa and China.  

Asbestos fibres were mixed in cement or woven into fibres worldwide. The asbestos materials are very strong, heat-resistant, incombustible and sound-absorbent. It made Asbestos an ideal material for electrical and building insulation.

In the United Kingdom, buildings and materials manufactured or redeveloped 2000 may contain Asbestos. 

There is an increased risk of encountering it on pre-2000 properties. In 1999, the United Kingdom banned Asbestos because of the increased amount of cases with workers who worked with it contracting lung diseases. There are over 50 countries currently who prohibit the use of Asbestos. However, it is still commonly used in India, China, Russia and Indonesia.

The Different Types of Asbestos?

The name asbestos is six unique minerals which belong to two mineral families. They are serpentine and amphibole. 

Any form of Asbestos is highly toxic; exposure can develop into terminal diseases, including mesothelioma.

The three main types of Asbestos are:

  • Chrysotile (White Asbestos). Chrysotile is the most and is often contaminated with trace amounts of tremolite. Chrysotile fibres are fine in texture and possess high flexibility and excellent heat resistant properties. It is ideal for use within cement, roofing materials, brake pads, linings & and materials for roofing.
  • Amosite (Brown Asbestos). It is mined mainly in Africa. Amosite is a very strong and heat-resistant type of Asbestos. It was commonly used in cement sheets, plumbing and electrical insulation. It has a very high cancer risk.
  • Crocidolite (blue Asbestos). It has very fine fibres and are easily lodged in the lungs if inhaled. It’s fibres and brittle composition. Make crocidolite one of the most harmful asbestos forms you can encounter. It easily breaks down leading to asbestos exposure.

Minor types of Asbestos – Tremolite, Actinolite & Anthophyllite

Tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite have never been sold commercially. They are found instead as contaminants in commercially sold asbestos products.


Found in paints, sealants, talc and insulation as a contaminant. It can come in white, green and grey. It has the properties to allow it to be woven into cloth.


Again found in paints and sealants, it’s lightweight fibres are generally dark in colour. It is in various forms, including brittle, fibrous or dense and compact. It expands when heated and makes it an effective insulation material. This property has led to it being used in structural fireproofing and insulation materials.


Grey-brown in colour and comes as a contaminant in composite flooring. It was commonly used in products containing vermiculite and talc. The risk of developing mesothelioma from this type of Asbestos is lower than amosite, chrysotile and crocidolite, although it can never be discounted.

Detecting if Asbestos is present?

Never carry out work if you suspect there is asbestos present without having a professional survey or testing carried out.

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