White asbestos is lethal, precisely because many people believe the myth that it is safe, or safer.
Originally Posted by Robertcateran
Mesothelioma is only associated with blue asbestos and can occur after only one contact. White asbestos can cause cancer with a fair bit more exposure- especially if allied
with smoking. I tend to agree that people have gone overboard over white asbestos. Typical, complete denial for over 70 years and then complete overboard afterwards.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the asbestos industry stressed the dangers of blue asbestos. Their reasoning was that blue asbestos fibres tend to be smaller, making it is easier for blue fibres to penetrate deep into the lungs.
The exact relationship, however, between size of fibre and the process of triggering a cancer is not known.
What is completely clear, is that white asbestos produces lung cancer, mesotheliomas, and asbestosis. It might be true that white asbestos does not produce as many mesotheliomas as blue and brown asbestos, and that it does not produce them in the stomach lining (the peritoneum). In that strictly academic sense it is "safer".
But it is irrelevant because most white asbestos is contaminated with other potentially more dangerous types, especially tremolite, which cannot be separated.
The four types of asbestos* that have been used in industry, to any material extent, the common chrysotile with its curly fibres and the three amphiboles (crocidolite, amosite and anthophyllite) with their straight ones, all produce pulmonary fibrosis, cancer of the lung, and mesotheliomas of the pleura and peritoneum in animal experiments.
In other words, both white and the less common types of asbestos, produce deadly diseases in man.
* Types of Asbestos
Asbestos minerals are divided into two main groups - serpentines and amphiboles – based on their fibre structure.
Chrysotile (white asbestos)
is made up of fine flexible white fibres, and is the only asbestos mineral in the serpentine group. It is the most common type used, accounting for approximately 95 percent of all asbestos found in buildings.
There are five types of asbestos in the amphibole group.
Amosite (brown asbestos) is made up of straight brown/grey fibres, and is the second most common type of asbestos found in building materials.
Crocidolite (blue asbestos) consists of straight blue fibres.
Anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite are occasionally found as contaminants in asbestos-containing materials.