But what is asbestos? Part 1


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Asbestos Abatement Seattle, Washington

Protect yourself and those in your life: learn what asbestos abatement really means

Asbestos is any one of several minerals that readily separate into long flexible fibers, that cause harmful diseases and have been implicated as causes of certain cancers, and that have been used especially formerly as fireproof insulating materials. 

It may be easier if we start by telling you what it isn’t to clear up some misconceptions - it isn’t one single type of mineral. It is actually a group of silicate minerals that have the same type of fibrous texture.

(In layman terms: it’s a group of minerals that have a fiber like consistency).

The 1986 Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act recognizes six different types of "asbestos" that make-up two categories, these are the minerals we see most consistently in our industry in the United States.

The Categories

The first category is Serpentine Asbestos, which includes just Chrysotile. The other category is Amphibole Asbestos which includes Crocidolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite.

That may seem like a lot of technical information and you may feel like you need to Google a word or two, but don’t worry, we can simplify it. 

The Minerals

To make it easier to remember the different kinds, think color and shape – Chrysotile is the technical term for ‘white asbestos,’ the fibers are long and curly, the only known asbestos mineral in the Serpentine category due the natural curling shape of the fibers. It is one of the most common forms found and makes up approximately 90% of commercially-used asbestos in the world.

Amosite is the technical term for ‘brown’ asbestos fibers, the fibers are as straight as a pin making it part of the Amphibole category like the other four asbestos minerals. Amosite actually contains iron and magnesium as well and is the second most common form found.

Ranging in color from white to gray to brown is the Anthophyllite fiber of the Amphibole category.  Typically, Anthophyllite was not used commercially on its own but found its way into products made with vermiculite and talc.

Like Anthophyllite, Tremolite, also Amphibole, ranges in color from white to gray to brown, but additionally green and sometimes even translucent. Often times Tremolite is found with vermiculite, talc as well.

Crocidolite is the technical term for ‘blue’ asbestos fibers, it also has straight fibers like its Amphibole partners, but some considered it to be the most dangerous type of asbestos due to the fact that it is a sodium iron magnesium silicate.

Actinolite asbestos has a dark green crystal or fibrous aggregate appearance. Just like some of the other minerals in the Amphibole category, Actinolite is often found contaminate different commercial products, from paint to children’s toys.

The Facts

All six of these types of asbestos have physical and chemical differences, but they all hold one similar property: they are known carcinogens proven to be dangerous to human health if you are exposed to them for a prolonged period of time.

Set up a free estimate with Northwest Abatement Services, Inc. for your residential and commercial asbestos testing and abatement process.

Northwest Abatement has been serving the Greater Tacoma and Seattle Area with our abatement services since 1994. If you have questions, our knowledgeable and professional staff would gladly ease your mind and help you take the next step in removing suspected asbestos containing materials from your business or home.

You can get in contact with our staff here.

You can read more about asbestos abatement here.

You can view an infographic for possible asbestos locations here.