Asbestos in Commercial Use – Amphibole vs. Chrysotile
Due to its ability to resist heat and fire, as well as its inherent durability, the mineral fiber asbestos has been frequently used in the past as a component of products produced by several industries, most notably construction. The term “asbestos” is also slightly misleading – it refers not to a single substance, but to a group of natural mineral fibers which share certain properties, but differ in others. The two types of asbestos fiber most often used for commercial purposes are known as “amphibole” and “chrysotile.”
Amphibole asbestos is a particularly durable category of asbestos which includes subtypes such as tremolite and actinolyte asbestos. It is characterized by straight, needle-like fibers with high resistance to heat and chemical damage, possibly due to its unusually high iron content. It was widely used in the past as a component in furnaces, stoves, and other heating systems. This popularity was unfortunate – amphibole asbestos has been shown to have a high risk of causing scarring and damage to the lungs, resulting in asbestosis, pleural plaque, and even mesothelioma and lung cancer. Studies have also demonstrated that amphibole asbestos is easily friable and inhaled, and tends to stay in the lungs much longer than other types of asbestos, significantly increasing its health risk. Because of these dangers, the use of amphibole asbestos has been heavily restricted, and in most cases, replaced with other, “safer” types of asbestos.
Also known as “white asbestos,” chrysotile asbestos is uniquely “serpentine” among asbestos types, a term describing its curled or twisted shape, as compared to the straight appearance of the amphibole types. It is considered much less friable than amphibole asbestos, and thus less of a health risk. Due to its different physical structure and chemical makeup, chrysotile asbestos tends to be less harmful in the lungs than other types of asbestos. As such, it is the main type of asbestos used in industry today, accounting for more than 90% of all asbestos used in the United States.
Of course, even chrysotile asbestos – the “safe” asbestos – can pose a health risk in large amounts. It is important for high risk workers such as construction workers, repair workers, miners, and maintenance workers specializing in old buildings. If you are such a worker, be conscious of safety procedures and make sure you and your co-workers receive the proper training to handle and work around asbestos.
In the past, many workers and individuals were exposed to asbestos, sparking the development of health problems which may take years to appear. If you are one of these people that are suffering from lung cancer or mesothelioma, you may be entitled to seek compensation from the companies or people responsible. Call a mesothelioma lawyer from Williams Kherkher at 800-781-3955 to discuss your case in a free consultation.