what is asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a set of six silicate minerals which occur naturally. White asbestos makes up 95% of the asbestos found in buildings. It occurs in all parts of the world. It is fibrous, heat resistant and non flammable. These properties made it very attractive as a component in building materials and other products such as insulation and automotive friction materials i.e. brake pads and clutches.

The six silicate minerals comprise of Chrysotile (white asbestos) Crocidolite (blue asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos), Anthophyllite asbestos, Tremolite asbestos and Actinolite asbestos.

For reporting purposes only three types of asbestos are reported – Chrysotile, Amosite and Crocidolite.

White asbestos is generally viewed as being low risk however the asbestos type does not determine a high risk material.  The material type determines this.  For example, white asbestos in pipe lagging is considered very high risk due to the friable nature of pipe lagging.  Blue asbestos in a cement product would be viewed as a low risk material as the fibres are tightly bonded in the cement.  These are the opposites of common views.