Not so long ago there was rarely a building constructed without the use of asbestos. This so-called super product dealt effectively with both heat and noise insulation as well as being inert, odourless, insoluble and fire resistant. Asbestos was used in walls, boiler insulation, ceiling tiles and much more.

The workers using it had no idea of the effects it would have on their future health and as health and safety regulations can be described as lax at best in the middle of the 20th century, it is unlikely they would have done things much differently.

As we now know, inhalation of the fibres that make up asbestos causes lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma. Thousands have lost their lives due to dealing with asbestos in the past and the number is still rising.

Those who were exposed to asbestos during their ordinary working day are entitled to monetary compensation and the claims now have reached millions of pounds. Here is a brief overview of the different types of asbestos which have blighted the health of a generation.


Chrysotile, commonly known as white asbestos, was the most commonly used type of asbestos and the one you will be most likely to find lurking when renovating old properties. Chrysotile is the only asbestos belonging to the serpentine group, which means its fibres are curly rather than straight.

This makes it much more flexible than the other types of asbestos making it easy to mould for such uses corrugated roof tiles on garages and outhouses to insulated pipes. Widely used for decades in the UK and the US, it is also considered to be the most deadly due to the deaths arising from its use, but research has actually said this is due to the fact it was more widely used.


One of the asbestos types mainly found in Australia, South Africa and Bolivia, the fibres of Crocidolite have a bluish hue when viewed under a microscope; this is better known as blue asbestos. As well as the mentioned usages, Crocidolite was also used to make cement due to its fibres and it is estimated that 20% of those who mined Crocidolite have lost their lives due to inhaling its fibres.

Blue asbestos is also widely regarded as having the best heat resistance of all asbestos types, thus making it ideal for construction work in countries with extreme temperatures and the risk of wildfires.


Amosite, or brown asbestos, originated in Africa and was widely used in the pipe insulation and the construction of cement sheets. The name Amosite is partly an acronym of “Asbestos Mines of Southern Africa” and consists of white/grey vitreous fibres. It was most widely used in insulation boards, ceiling tiles and thermal insulation due to its flame retardant properties. Amosite asbestos, along with Crocidolite, was at the peak of its popularity in the 1980's, and these two have been proven to be the most hazardous types of asbestos.

Now you can see how widely used asbestos was it is little wonder how many have fallen victim to the horrendous side effects years later. The worst thing about this is that the first documented death related to asbestos was recorded way back in 1906 and in the UK in 1924. The fact it was such a cheap material seems to have led the health impact to be overlooked. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives because they worked with asbestos in the past and no doubt that figure will continue to rise....

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