What does asbestos look like?

You’ll probably already know asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance. You might also be wondering ‘what does asbestos look like?’

danger asbestos sign

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is the name used for a group of naturally occurring minerals that are used in many products. It is used to strengthen materials and provide fire and chemical resistance. In the production process, asbestos has usually been mixed with other substances. This creates different asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), but it has also been used on its own.

Respirable asbestos fibres are invisible to the naked eye. When breathed in they can become stuck in the lungs. Over time, this can cause serious illnesses, including cancers.

How dangerous is asbestos?

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos in the workplace. Latest figures suggest that work-related asbestos exposures claim at least 233,000 lives1 every year.

removing asbestos in hazmat suits

Types of asbestos

There are several types of asbestos. The most commonly used were:

  • chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • amosite (brown asbestos)
  • crocidolite (blue asbestos) – shown below

Crocidolite asbestos

Less commonly used types were:

  • anthophyllite
  • actinolite
  • tremolite

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  1. Furuya S, Chimed-Ochir O, Takahashi K, David A, Takala J. Global Asbestos Disaster. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2018;15:1000.