Raw Asbestos

Raw Asbestos in Building, Industrial, Safety and Other Materials

The term "asbestos" refers to a number of different minerals sharing a variety of useful industrial properties. Asbestos is fibrous, which allows it to be used in the same way as textiles; it is also fire-resistant, corrosion-resistant, and extremely durable. Asbestos fibers were added to cement, adhesives and various types of insulation during much of the 19th and 20th centuries; there were literally hundreds of different uses for this material.

Geologists have identified six different types of asbestos, though only three of these have ever been used commercially. Chrysotile, or "white" asbestos, was the most commonly-used form of asbestos, and is still mined and marketed in at least 12 countries. Chrysotile is taken from a rock known as serpentine. During the last century, it accounted for approximately 97% of all asbestos products.

The other two main types of asbestos are classified as amphiboles. One of these was crocidolite, more popularly known as "blue" asbestos. Crocidolite is a good electrical insulator, and was often used in power plants and around electrical equipment. The other amphibole use commercially was amosite, or "brown" asbestos. Containing significant amounts of iron, amosite was highly resistant to acid and other corrosive substances, and was frequently used in chemical labs and factories.

Another type of amphibole asbestos, tremolite, was never mined or exploited commercially, but often contaminates other products, such as talc and vermiculite.

Manufacturers and Distributors of Raw Asbestos Fiber

The following partial list of companies manufactured / distributed raw asbestos fiber:

Product Name Start Year End Year
AC & S Limpet LW25 Raw Asbestos Fiber 1960 1973
GAF Ruberoid Vermont Asbestos Grade 115 Raw Asbestos Fiber
Johns Manville 7M-13 Raw Asbestos Fibers
National Gypsum Asbestos Fiber
National Gypsum Gold Bond Asbestos Fiber
Union Carbide Asbestos 1963 1985
W.R. Grace Vermiculite
W.R. Grace Zonolite

Hazards Associated with Asbestos Products

Health hazards associated with long-term exposure to raw asbestos include a form of pneumoconiosis known as asbestosis; pleural thickening, in which lung tissue hardens and becomes unable to expand; and cancer of the lung and visceral lining, or mesothelioma.

View Sources


Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)

N/A. "Asbestos Linked to Autoimmune Diseases." Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 113 (2004)

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