Last updated: May 30, 2018

What Does Asbestos Mean?

Asbestos is a soft grey fibrous silicate mineral, which was commonly used for heat insulation. Asbestos is an ancient Greek word that means inextinguishable. Use of asbestos is now prohibited in most countries, as its prolonged inhalation causes malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other lung diseases.

Safeopedia Explains Asbestos

Asbestos has a long history of about 4000 years. It became very popular in building construction industries in the 19th century because of its unique properties of sound absorption, ductile strength, fire resistance, heat, electrical and chemical insulation.

There are six types of asbestos found in the nature:

  • Chrystolite – used in the insulation of buildings, pipes, gasket, boiler seals and automobile brake linings
  • Amosite – used in cement sheet, ceiling tiles and pipe insulation. Originates in Africa
  • Crocidolite – it is the best heat resistant among all asbestos. It is used in insulation of steam engines, pipes and cement products
  • Tremolite – is not used commercially, but traced in chrysolite, vermiculite and talc
  • Anthophyllite – used in composite flooring. Found in Finland
  • Actinolite – not used commercially, but found as contaminant

Asbestos exposure became a cause of concern as it is responsible for many lethal diseases. House keepers and maintenance employees, fire and emergency workers are more at risk than others and, as a result, are needed to be protected from exposures to asbestos.


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