3 Types of Asbestos Fibers That Should Be On Your Radar

With its widespread use in the 1920s to 1980s, asbestos has been used in numerous building materials because of its excellent insulating properties. Since then, the use of asbestos has reduced significantly as studies in the 1980s found that the material to be an attributing factor to certain diseases. There are six forms of asbestos fibers. However, we will discuss the three common types of asbestos used in homes and businesses in the United States.

The Silent Killer

Asbestos fibers are small and invisible to the naked eye. However, when inhaled, these asbestos fibers can cause numerous diseases and health conditions. These fibers can get lodged into the inner linings of the lung and cause complications if one were to be exposed to them for long periods. Since they do not have any odor and cannot be easily seen, it makes asbestos an exceptionally dangerous material to have around. Symptoms from asbestos exposure could appear only after a few years or from prolonged exposure. As such, asbestos is often called a silent killer because of this.


Chrysotile is the most widely used asbestos fiber in asbestos-containing materials (ACM). In the United States, 95% of all ACMs contain chrysotile in them. As compared to other asbestos minerals, chrysotile fibers have a higher tensile strength, making them a more durable and versatile material to be used in building materials. Under an electron microscope, the layers of the chrysotile are seen as being rolled in spiral form and are white in color. The world’s greatest deposits of chrysotile can be found in Quebec and the Ural Mountains in Russia.


Used mainly in insulation boards and ceiling tiles, amosite is the second most used asbestos mineral used among the six. Amosite has a high heat and flame resistance, making them perfect for insulation boards. The mineral is also a great absorber of liquids and wave energies. With its high absorption ability, it was widely used in materials to reduce condensation and in providing acoustic insulation. Under a microscope, amosite seems like straight and needle-like fibers. Due to its high iron content, amosite gives off a brown color appearance. These fibers are much easier to inhale as compared to Chrysotile due to its brittle structure, making amosite a deadlier form of asbestos. In the past, amosite was produced mainly in South Africa.


Tremolite is the third most used asbestos mineral. Their fibers come in a wide range of colors, which depends on the type of metals found in its fibers. Under the microscope, the fibers are sharp and brittle.

These 3 common types of asbestos can cause devastating illnesses such as lung disease, cancers and asbestosis. Numerous building materials which contain asbestos can still be found in many businesses and homes today. Iris Environmental laboratories provide asbestos inspections that are conducted by certified trained professionals. Receive personalized and professional service as we conduct our business on a one on one basis. Call now at 1800-908-6679 to find out more on our asbestos inspection services or fill up our online form to be contacted by our consultants.