Understanding, Managing, and Living with the

Health Effects of Asbestos

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Types of Asbestos

There are six different types of asbestos that belong to two mineral groups: serpentine and amphibole. The different types of asbestos are listed below--in order from those most dangerous and pervasive in our environments to those least likely to harm humans.

  • Chrysotile Asbestos/White asbestos was used predominately in commercial products that have been found to have a harmful effect on human health. The “good” news: it is not as easily inhaled as other types of asbestos. The bad news: because its use was so widespread, more people die from exposure to white asbestos than any other.
  • Crocidolite Asbestos/Blue Asbestos is considered the most dangerous type of asbestos. It can be found naturally on virtually every continent. Sadly, it was put to commercial use in the US and elsewhere before the health effects of asbestos were widely understood.
  • Amosite Asbestos/Brown Asbestos , the second most commonly used type of asbestos behind Chrysotile asbestos, Amosite asbestos was used for a variety of commercial purposes, including for cement sheeting and pipe insulation. This asbestos originates in Africa .
  • Actinolite Asbestos while this type of asbestos was not used industrially or commercially very often, it is extremely damaging to the lungs when inhaled.
  • Tremolite Asbestos was not as widely used in commercial products, though it has been found in some talcum powders (a known carcinogen). Tremolite is the form responsible for many asbestos related diseases in the vermiculite mines of Libby, Montana.
  • Anthophyllite Asbestos was not often used by humans, though it was sometimes added to certain vermiculites.