The Three Common Forms of Asbestos

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The Three Common Forms of Asbestos

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is known for its durability and resistance to heat. It comes in various forms, each with unique properties and uses.

1. White Asbestos (Chrysotile)

Properties: Part of the serpentine group, Chrysotile is the most common form of asbestos in the UK, comprising 90% of asbestos materials. It can be broken down by the body if ingested.

  • Combustion Temperature: Approximately 350-400°C
  • Water Absorption: Absorbs water, which is advantageous in its handling and application.
  • Uses: Commonly found in asbestos cement, building cladding, and pipework.

2. Brown Asbestos

Properties: Brown asbestos is highly valued for its thermal and fire protection capabilities, surpassing 900°C before combustion.

  • Uses: Predominantly used in steelwork protection, thermal lagging around pipework in boiler systems, and for sound insulation in churches, theatres, and cinemas.

3. Blue Asbestos

Properties: Known for its dangerous short, sharp, needle-like structure. It is water-resistant and combusts at around 400°C.

  • Uses: Utilised in asbestos cement for bridges and structural elements.

Legislation and Ban

White asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999. Blue and brown asbestos were formally banned in 1985, with a voluntary ban on blue asbestos introduced earlier, meaning buildings constructed post-1970 should not contain blue asbestos.

This document provides an overview of the three common forms of asbestos, highlighting their unique characteristics, uses, and the legal status of their application in the UK.