Asbestos Exposure - FAQ's

What is asbestos?

"Asbestos" is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally as masses of strong, flexible fibers that can be separated into thin threads and woven. These fibers are not affected by heat or chemicals and do not conduct electricity. For these reasons, asbestos has been widely used in many industries. Four types of asbestos have been commonly used:

  • Chrysotile, or white asbestos (curly, flexible white fibers), which accounts for about 90 percent of the asbestos currently used in industry;
  • Amosite (straight, brittle fibers that are light gray to pale brown in color);
  • Crocidolite, or blue asbestos (straight blue fibers); and
  • Anthophyllite (brittle white fibers).

Chrysotile asbestos, with its curly fibers, is in the serpentine family of minerals. The other types of asbestos, which all have needle-like fibers, are known as amphiboles.

Asbestos fiber masses tend to break easily into a dust composed of tiny particles that can float in the air and stick to clothes. The fibers may be easily inhaled or swallowed and can cause serious health problems.

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