Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally as bundles of fibers which can be separated into thin threads. The fibers are heat resistant, resistant to chemical attack, have excellent tensile strength and have high electrical resistance. These properties make asbestos a useful material for electrical and thermal insulation. It was often added to many building materials for this reason.
There are several types of commercial asbestos...
CHRYSOTILE or WHITE ASBESTOS accounts for about 99% of asbestos currently used in the United States.
CROCIDOLITE or BLUE ASBESTOS
AMOSITE, which usually has brown fibers.
ANTHOPHYLLITE, which usually has gray fibers.
Asbestos fiber masses tend to break easily into a dust composed of tiny particles that can float in the air and stick to clothes. The fibers may be easily inhaled or swallowed and can cause serious health problems. Asbestos containing materials are therefore divided into two categories: friable and non-friable. Friable means that a material is able to be reduced to powder by hand pressure. Asbestos containing materials that are friable, by their nature, have a much greater tendency to release fibers. They require specific control measures to prevent releasing fibers into the air. Conversely, non-friable asbestos containing materials, by their nature, do not want to give up their fibers into the air.
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