C is for Chrysotile, Crocidolite and Cancer


Chrysotile is more commonly known or historically refereed to as white asbestos and it occurs as a fine silky flexible white fibre and has in the past been mined mainly in Canada, Russia and South Africa.


Like other types of asbestos Chrysotile has good thermal and physical properties which has resulted in its extensive use within a wide variety of building materials, brands and products. The most common and easily recognised building materials which have in the past contained Chrysotile are corrugated and flat sheet asbestos cement including flue pipes, textured coatings to walls and ceilings ( brand names include Artex and Wonderlux) and floor coverings such as linoleum and plastic floor tiles. Even today many properties and outbuildings still feature these materials and for the most part are fit for purpose. Other materials include gaskets to pipe flanges, pipe insulation and vessel laggings and some lightweight insulating boards.


As well as the more easily recognised materials which contain white asbestos there are also the more obscure and not so well known products and uses. White asbestos has been used in products such as liquid filters in the beer and spirits industry, wall plugs which needed to be wetted in order to set, rope cords for sash windows, aprons/fire blankets, theatre curtains, elements to ovens and toasters the list is almost endless with a well recognised figure of over 3000 uses.





Similarly Crocidolite is commonly known as blue asbestos which is found as a straight blue fibre and has in the past been mined predominantly in South Africa, Australia & Bolivia.


Crocidolite is the strongest of the asbestos fibres and its high mechanical strength together with its acid resistance made it a valuable industrial material. Crocidolite has been predominantly used in cement based products, some sprayed coating, laggings and insulating board and gaskets. Compared to Chrysotile and Amosite Crocidolite is not as tolerable to heat and hence its use as a fireproofing material was limited.





Asbestos is now synonymous with cancer, as a product asbestos has great physical and chemical qualities but one major downfall. Asbestos dust and fibres inhalation can lead to several asbestos related illnesses and diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and several different types of pleural thickenings. The latency period between initial exposure and developing an asbestos related disease can be between 20-60 years with levels of exposure, age, sex, smoking and lifestyle habits all contributing to if & when any disease developes.  

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