Asbestos: How harmful is it?
We all know that asbestos is lethal. Anyone who walks into a building that contains the slightest bit of asbestos-based insulation will die horribly. Or will they?
The Royal Society of Chemistry has an article on page four of this newsletter that discusses the issue. It tells us that not all forms of asbestos are created equal. There are two types discussed in the article: amphiboles (or brown and blue) and chrysolites (also known as white). About 95% of asbestos used in the U.S. and 98% of that used worldwide fits into the second category, the chrysolites.
While health hazards from amphiboles are well-documented, and they have been widely banned, chrysolites have not been proven harmful. The effort to have chrysolites banned often stems from manufacturers of alternative materials that are more expensive and have a safety record that is as bad or worse. It's a typical bootleggers and baptists situation.