Types of Asbestos
The main categories of asbestos are amphibole and serpentine, and they are categorized by the shape the fibers assume. Serpentine has wavy fibers and is said to be found in about 95% of products developed for commercial use in USA. Since serpentine fibers are light and wavy, they can easily be breathed out from an individual’s body when compared to amphibole fibers.
The other main category, which is amphibole consists of spindle-shaped fibers that tend to be rigid, sharp, and have the ability to lodge themselves in the tissue of the body. It is this property of amphibole that increases the risk of an individual developing mesothelioma.
Besides the two categories, there are six types of the mineral, but two of them namely: tremolite and actinolite, are not used commercially. The other four, and which are found in many products and materials are:1,2,3
- These appear gray and are used in different commercial applications
Crocidolite and Amosite
These appear blue and brown respectively, and they are used in spray-on insulation and on ships. Both of these types of asbestos take a brittle, needle-like structure making them to be difficult to dislodge or come out of the respiratory tract.
These are white in appearance and are a form of serpentine asbestos (the only serpentine asbestos we have). Chrysotile has curled fibers and it’s one of the most used in commercial applications. These asbestos fibers can be dislodged from a person’s body much easier compared to the other forms.
Kinds of Asbestos Exposure
People may be exposed to asbestos in different ways including:1
This involved people being directly exposed to the mineral at their jobs. People who worked in construction or industrial trades or those who came in contact with products used in these applications may have been exposed to the fibers. Another name for occupational exposure is first hand exposure to asbestos.
There are cases where people were exposed to the mineral after coming in contact with clothes of persons who worked with or near the substance.
Because the mineral may be found in nature, for example in mines, it means that people near those locations may have been exposed to the fibers released into the air.