How dangerous are blue and brown asbestos?


“Asbestos” is a term used to describe a type of mineral, but it’s not a single substance; rather, it’s a fibrous form that certain minerals sometimes naturally take. The appearance of asbestos differs depending on the underlying mineral out of which it is made. Asbestos can be white, brown, blue, gray or dull green. These forms of asbestos differ in the extent to which they’ve been used in commercial products. While blue and brown asbestos aren’t the most common forms, they’re among the most dangerous.


How dangerous are blue and brown asbestos?


White asbestos is officially known as chrysotile and is by far the most common; it’s often found in old pipes and ducts, car parts and other commercial uses. Blue asbestos is known as crocidolite and has been used in applications like spray-on coatings and pipe insulations. Brown asbestos is known as ammonite and has been used in cement sheets and various thermal insulation products. These three types of asbestos—chrysotile, crocidolite and amphibole—together account for most commercial applications.
So how do they compare? Chrysotile is the only type of asbestos classified as “serpentine,” because its fibers take a curvy form. The blue and brown varieties are categorized as “amphibole”; their fibers are needle-like.


Some evidence exists that amphibole asbestos is more carcinogenic, because the needle-shaped fibers have greater ability to damage cells. But little is known about this. Government bodies such as the EPA have been more concerned with the overall danger posed by asbestos than with differentiating types. Given what is known about the dangers of asbestos exposure, white, brown and blue asbestos should all be considered highly carcinogenic.


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How Dangerous are Blue and Brown Asbestos?

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