Two Categories of Asbestos
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are two major categories of asbestos:
Serpentine: These fibers can be woven together and are flexible and long.
Chrysotile, or white asbestos, is the primary type of serpentine and is used in manufacturing processes. It is in more than 95% of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) and used in about 90% of all commercial processes.
Amosite, also called brown asbestos, is generally used in spray coatings, heat insulation, and cement products.
Crocidolite, or blue asbestos, is not used much but is found in spray coatings on structure steelwork for fire protection and heat or noise insulation.
Amphibole: These fibers are brittle, rod- or needle-shaped, straight and relatively stiff. These characteristics make this group, composed of actinolite, anthophyllite, and tremolite relatively useless for commercial processes.
When handled, asbestos can separate into microscopic-sized particles that remain in the air and are easily inhaled. Persons occupationally exposed to asbestos have developed several types of life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Although the use of asbestos and asbestos products has dramatically decreased in recent years, they are still found in many residential and commercial settings and continue to pose a health risk to workers and others.