Crocidolite Asbestos is also known as blue asbestos. It is one of six naturally occurring
minerals with a silicate base that have been used for commercial purposes. The name asbestos comes from the Greek
and describes the common form of asbestos versions to appear as long thin fibrous crystals. These crystals
of Crocidolite Asbestos tend to break along the long plane when disturbed so that the diameter of
fibers becomes smaller and smaller. These Crocidolite Asbestos fibers can float in the air and can be
taken into the lungs when one works or lives in an area where asbestos is found.
Inhaling fibers of asbestos material can result in major illnesses, such as
lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Mesothelioma is a form of lung cancer tied to asbestos. Previously, it
occurred rarely, but the increased use of asbestos products has resulted in a significantly higher rate of cancer
than ever before. Because many workers in shipyards and other work sites were exposed to asbestos, the number of
cases of mesothelioma continued to increase dramatically.
Yet, even though the product was not used as heavily as some of the other types of asbestos, exposure to
asbestos is the major cause of mesothelioma. This particular type of asbestos is responsible for the highest level
of deaths. There is little help for someone who contracts the disease, since fibers can remain in the lungs for
years before making their presence known in the form of the deadly cancer.
Asbestos comes in six major forms, serpentinite rocks are common throughout the world and yield
chrysotile fibers. These fibers are curly, as opposed to those of the other five
major forms of asbestos. The other five major types are crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite, amosite, and
anthophyllite are categorized as amphibole asbestos. This type appears in sharp needle-like forms.
About 95 percent of asbestos used in buildings in the United States was the
chrysotile type. Chrysotile asbestos is brown asbestos. Amongst the amphibole group, crocidolite and amosite
make up the largest usage. Both crocidolite and amosite were widely used in products until early in the 1980s
when the danger became more and more apparent. By the mid 1980s, the use of the amphibole asbestos group was
prohibited in almost all of the Western world. Japan followed suit with its ban in 1995.
Asbestos of the crocidolite form is traditionally found in Western Australia, Bolivia and South Africa. About four
percent of the total asbestos commercially in the United States is crocidolite. The major reason for its limited
use is that it has less heat resistance than some of the other asbestos products.
The fibers of crocidolite are fairly flexible, but will bend beyond ninety degrees before breaking. They are very
finely textured, almost hairlike in diameter. In natural form, they are found in long, straight bundles of fibers.
Because the fibers are so fine, they can be easily inhaled. They don't deteriorate in the body, but remain in the
lungs to cause problems in the future. This form of asbestos is harder than other varieties of amphibole asbestos.
The color varies from a very dark blue to slate gray.
Crocidolite is believed to be the most dangerous of the amphibole family. Amongst miners of blue asbestos,
statistics show that almost twenty percent die from mesothelioma. It is true that you do not have to be a miner to
contract a disease such as mesothelioma. Secondary exposure to asbestos is common and death rates due to
mesothelioma are higher than in the general population. Living in an area where the mines were located is also a
recipe for ill effects. Neither crocidolite nor other amphibole asbestos products are mined today.
Crocidolite and amosite were often used in products such as asbestos-cement. They were not used to make insulation
as chrysotile was. The asbestos form of crocidolite was used to make ceiling tiles that had a low insulation
factor. Insulation boards that didn't require a high density could be manufactured from the crocidolite variety.
Sheets of asbestos cement often used this form of asbestos. It was also used for encasing water and electrical or
telecommunication wires. The production of asbestos pipes for construction continued until the ban was in effect.
Other uses for the product included chemical and thermal insulation such as lagging and gaskets, limpet spray and
There is a strong public awareness campaign about the dangers of mesothelioma. To date, not much information is
available about the specific effects of crocidolite asbestos, only that the mortality rate is much higher when
there is proven exposure to the substance. Exposure during a long period on a job where inhalation of the fibers
was a day-to-day occurrence appears to be the most significant link.
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