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What Are the Different Types of Asbestos?

Asbestos is a group of naturally-occurring minerals. There are six asbestos groups out there: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite. Typically, they’re categorised into two families: serpentine and amphibole. This is a way to indicate their fibre shapes and structure. 

In the past, asbestos was mined and used in a variety of different materials and products to make them stronger, durable and more insulative. However, since the ban of the use of asbestos, as it was discovered that the substance was incredibly dangerous, it’s never been more important for homeowners and business owners alike to recognise what asbestos looks like and what to do should you find it throughout your property.


Chrysotile (white asbestos)

therwise known as white asbestos, it’s one of the most commonly-used and, as a result, commonly-found asbestos variation there is. It can be found in ceilings, walls and floor tiles in homes and businesses. But it was also used in brake linings, gaskets for automobiles, in old boiler seals and as insulation for pipes, ducts and other appliances. 

Praised for its heat-resistant properties, it’s no wonder white asbestos was used for so many elements of a central heating system, particularly in homes built between the 1960’s-1990’s. This is the only type of asbestos to fall within the serpentine category as it’s made up of long, curly strands and fibres, woven together to make sheets of different thicknesses, depending on its purpose later down the production and installation line. White asbestos can be found in:

  • Asphalt
  • Brake lining
  • Brake pads
  • Cement
  • Clutches
  • Disk pads
  • Gaskets
  • Plastics
  • Roofing materials
  • Rubber
  • Textiles


Amosite (brown asbestos)

Brown asbestos was often used in cement sheets and insulation for pipework. Thanks to its heat-resistant properties, it was also used in insulating boards, ceiling tiles and other thermal insulation products. Despite its popular use, it’s actually considered to be one of the most dangerous types of asbestos out there. The fibres are thin and almost needle-like. They’re so small that, when disturbed, they can be easily inhaled which can subsequently cause, potentially, fatal breathing and lung conditions. Brown asbestos can be found in the following things:

  • Cement
  • Chemical insulation
  • Electrical insulation
  • Fire protection
  • Gaskets
  • Insulation boards
  • Plumbing insulation
  • Roofing
  • Thermal insulation
  • Tiles


Crocidolite (blue asbestos)

This is most commonly used to insulate steam engines, but in the home, it can be found in such things as spray-on coatings, pipe insulation, cement and plastic products. It’s one of the most hazardous asbestos types in the amphibole family because the fibres are very small and sharp, making them easy and hazardous to inhale. This type of asbestos isn’t usually found in domestic settings, but if it was, it would be mostly found in the following things:

  • Cement
  • Floor tiles
  • Roof tiles
  • Insulation materials



This type of asbestos is only limited to insulation products and construction materials. It often presents itself as white, grey or even a dull green colour. Like other types of asbestos, this too comes in the form of long, needle-like fibres that can be easily inhaled into the lungs and respiratory system. It’s one of the rarest types of asbestos out there, so you’re not likely to find it in and around your home or commercial premises. This is because it wasn’t really used in consumer products.


Tremolite & actinolite

These asbestos types aren’t found in commercial settings, but it can act as a contaminant in other types of asbestos, including chrysotile. It can also be found in vermiculite and talc. These two asbestos materials are so similar, hence why they’ve been grouped together, they will often appear as a white, green or brown colour, but they might also be transparent, making them harder to spot. These fibres are long and thin and are woven together into a fabric. Many years ago, trace amounts of these asbestos types could be found in cosmetics, but not any more. If you come across them at all, they’ll likely be found in the following:

  • Paint
  • Sealants
  • Insulation
  • Roof tiles
  • Plumbing materials



Willshee’s have a dedicated team of waste management specialists who understand the importance of identifying, removing and disposing of asbestos and other hazardous waste materials as safely as possible and in a responsible manner each and every time. If you’re looking for quick, efficient and safe asbestos removal and disposal, then look no further than the experts here at Willshee’s. We’re also able to provide domestic and commercial skips for other projects, no matter the size. For more information, get in touch with our friendly, professional team today – we’re always pleased to hear from you.


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