Identifying Types of Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral. This substance was used widely in UK construction as a way of insulating properties and providing additional strength. There are many variations of asbestos fibres, however the three most commonly used within the UK were Amosite, Chrysotile and Crocidolite.

Most commonly known as ‘Brown Asbestos’, Amosite’s technical name is in fact Grunerite however it is rarely referred to as this. After being banned from import to the UK in 1980, Amosite was listed as a very dangerous type of asbestos despite being the most commonly found Amphibole type of asbestos.

Although Amosite was widely used as the sole asbestos ingredient in asbestos insulation boards (AIB), it is more often used as a mixture with Chrysotile.

Chrysotile, also known as ‘white asbestos’, is the most commonly found type of asbestos worldwide and is used in over 90% of all asbestos building materials.

Although Chrysotile has been proven to cause respiratory diseases, its effects are less sever due to its small curly fibres which allow it to be breathed out more easily. Despite being banned from the UK in 1999 it is still mined and used in several countries including Brazil, China and Russia.

Also referred to as ‘blue asbestos’, Crocidolite is considered to be the most dangerous form of asbestos commercially used in the UK. Its short, skiey fibres can easily puncture the lining of the lung and cause long-lasting damage for those who come into contact with it.

Crocidolite was commonly used in the marine industry on ships as a spray-on insulant and pipe lagging. It also had uses in the UK as loose-fill insulation and in asbestos-woven textiles and cement sheeting.

Whilst the above are three of the most commonly found forms of commercially used asbestos, they are not the only types. Whilst some pose more of a threat than others it is worth noting that all types of asbestos have the potential to be dangerous if they are not handled appropriately.

If you have any questions or concerns about any type of asbestos please get in contact and a member of our team will be happy to help.