While all asbestos is dangerous, asbestos also comes in several forms. Here in the United States, one type of asbestos accounts for roughly 95% of commercial use, with many other countries sharing similarly high percentages. This asbestos, known as Chrysotile or its commercial name of “white asbestos,” found commercial success in everything from building insulation to car brakes. Today we’re going to look at what it is, why it was so popular in the US, and the unique dangers of this type of asbestos.
What is Chrysotile Asbestos?
As we explained in our blog, Is Asbestos Man-Made or Naturally Occurring?, asbestos is two families of mined minerals known for its thin silicate fibers (known as fibres). Of the two families, Chrysotile is the only asbestos in the serpentine family, due to its softer wavy silicate fibers. Being more flexible, it saw itself being used for insulation, textiles, and in many construction materials. It is known as white asbestos from its coloration.
Local Asbestos Production Equals Local Use
As mentioned above, asbestos is a mined mineral, and North America had quite a few mines. In the US during the peak of the mining in the 1960 and 1970, over 140 mines were open (see our blog Is Asbestos Still Mined or Imported into the United States? for details). Canada had several as well, including the massive Belvidere Mountain deposit found in the 1820s that had two mines operating on it. With all this white asbestos present, it made sense to use local stores and seek out uses for it commercially.
The Dangers of White Asbestos
It’s important to reiterate that all asbestos is dangerous. The inhalation of asbestos fibers can lodge in the lungs and mesothelium (tissue lining the inner chest walls), leading to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Crocidolite, also known as blue asbestos, has very thin fibers, which makes it more brittle and produces smaller airborne fibers that pose greater dangers to lungs and other susceptible internal surfaces. Tremolite can be found in talc and vermiculite, contamination that can make otherwise safe products dangerous. But from its widespread use, Chrysotile is the most dangerous by volume of use.
White asbestos can still be found in older buildings and becomes dangerous as asbestos-containing materials start to decay or are removed during remodeling or demolition. Want to learn if asbestos of any kind is in your home or business? Contact Fiber Control, Inc. We’re experts in asbestos inspection and abatement. Contact us today to learn about your options when it comes to removing asbestos from your home and business.