6 Types of Asbestos

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally formed fibrous silicate mineral. It was used in building materials ranging from bricks to insulation products. Companies produced and sold millions of tons of asbestos-containing products in the 20th century. By the 1980s, due to worldwide deaths from asbestos use exceeding 100 million, asbestos was restricted and phased out. Many countries banned asbestos outright.

Health Hazards of Asbestos

The asbestos mineral has needle-like qualities. It is relatively light and can float in the air for long periods. Because asbestos fibers are like tiny needles, they can lodge in the tissues inside the body.


Once they have been inhaled, asbestos fibers remain in the body. Inhaled fibers eventually migrate to the lining of the lungs. Ingested fibers can migrate to the peritoneum, which lines the abdominal cavity. Inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers remain in these tissues for decades before mesothelioma, an asbestos related-illness similar to lung cancer, develops. Mesothelioma is cancer resulting from exposure to asbestos products that requires aggressive treatment.

Friability Increases The Risk of Developing Mesothelioma.

Asbestos is friable, meaning it breaks apart and becomes airborne quickly. Workers doing remodeling work often encounter asbestos materials. Without protective equipment, they can quickly inhale airborne fibers from these materials.

6 Types of Asbestos

Asbestos is classified into two groups based on their mineral properties and chemical composition: Serpentine and Amphibole.

  • The Serpentine Asbestos family consists of asbestos minerals with curved and flexible fibers. Chrysotile is the only serpentine asbestos mineral and accounts for over 90% of commercial asbestos.
  • The Amphibole Asbestos family consists of asbestos minerals that have straight fibers. Crocidolite, amosite, anthophyllite, actinolite, and tremolite are the amphibole asbestos minerals.

1. Chrysotile:


(Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Centers)

Chrysotile asbestos fibers are the most commonly used type of asbestos in many industries, including consumer products. Chrysotile asbestos is made of long and curly fibers. Chrysotile was mined primarily in the U.S. and Canada.

Manufacturers used chrysotile asbestos in automobile brake linings, gaskets and boiler seals, and insulation for pipes, ducts, and appliances. Chrysotile asbestos can be found today in the roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors of homes and businesses. 

2. Amosite:


Amosite(Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Centers)

Amosite is a type of asbestos that is highly toxic. Amosite is mainly mined out of South Africa and most frequently used in cement sheets, insulating board, ceiling tiles, and pipe insulation. Amosite has straighter and shorter fibers compared to chrysotile.

3. Crocidolite:


Crocidolite(Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Centers)

Crocidolite is a form of asbestos that appears blue. It isn’t as heat-resistant as other types of asbestos, so it isn’t used as often in industrial products. Crocidolite is mined in Bolivia, Australia, and South Africa.

It was used to insulate steam engines, as pipe insulation, and in some spray-on coatings. Crocidolite is the most toxic of all asbestos types because it has very slender particles that travel easily throughout the body.

4. Tremolite:


Tremolite(Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Centers)

Tremolite asbestos is found within the ground near deposits of chrysotile and vermiculite. It has been found to contaminate vermiculite or talc mines. Tremolite asbestos has been found in contaminated vermiculite attic insulation materials in millions of homes in the United States.

 5. Anthophyllite:


Anthophyllite(Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Centers)

Anthophyllite is a rare type of asbestos that has been mined in Georgia, North Carolina, and Finland. It is grey, dull green, or white and was used in limited quantities for insulation and construction materials.

6. Actinolite:


Actinolite(Source: Mesothelioma Treatment Centers)

Actinolite asbestos was mined in Australia and is dark-colored and consists of straight needle-like fibers. Actinolite was often mixed with vermiculite in the making of insulation and was also used to make paint and drywall.

What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Property Has Asbestos?

If you believe you have asbestos on your property or are planning a remodeling or renovation project, it is a good idea to get an indoor air quality test and/or designated substances report (mandatory in Ontario for most places)  done and arrange asbestos remediation with appropriately trained professionals that specialize in handling hazardous materials

Ferro Canada is a member of the Environmental Abatement Council of Ontario. Our firm provides remediation and abatement of environmental hazards, including asbestos, contaminated soil, lead, mold, PCB, contaminated storage tanks, and infectious materials.

If you want the most responsive, experienced, and dedicated environmental contractors in the business, Call FERRO Canada today.