DescriptionCircumstances of exposure and related occupations
Group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals with current or historical commercial usefulness due to their physical and chemical properties. Asbestos is used for insulation in buildings and as a component in a number of products, such as roofing shingles, water supply lines, fire blankets, and plastic fillers, as well as clutches and brake linings, gaskets, and pads for automobiles.
The principal forms of asbestos are chrysotile (white asbestos) and crocidolite (blue asbestos). Other forms are amosite, anthophyllite, tremolite, and actinolite.
Exposure to asbestos occurs through inhalation of fibres:
  • primarily from contaminated air in the working environment;
  • the highest level of exposure occurs during mixing with other raw materials and dry cutting of asbestos-containing products with abrasive tools;
  • exposure can also occur during installation and use of asbestos-containing products and maintenance of vehicles;
  • exposure may also come from fibres carried home on the clothing of asbestos workers.
The use of asbestos is now banned in the European Union; however, friable chrysotile and/or other type of asbestos-containing materials are still in place in many buildings and continue to give rise to exposure to asbestos during maintenance, alteration, removal, and demolition. Other uses of chrysotile are friction materials, textiles, and other applications.