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Asbestos is the name for a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals that have had numerous commercial applications because of their durability and ability to resist high heat.
There are 2 main categories of asbestos:
- Amphibole asbestos, which is commonly known as blue or brown asbestos, is known to cause cancer and is not used very much anymore. Amphibole asbestos has many different subtypes, including actinolite, amosite, anthyophyllite, crocidolite and tremolite.
- Serpentine asbestos is sometimes called white asbestos. The only type of serpentine asbestos is called chrysotile asbestos. It is also known to cause cancer. Chrysotile asbestos is currently the most commonly used form of asbestos in the world. It is found in almost all asbestos-based products available today, which includes brake linings, building materials, water and sewer pipes, and insulation.
The use of asbestos, including chrysotile asbestos, has been banned in many countries.