Also referred to as white asbestos, chrysotile is the most prevalent type of asbestos. Between 90 and 95% of all asbestos used throughout the world consists of chrysotile. This fibrous mineral has been used for commercial applications since the early 1900s. Popular for its insulating and fire retardant properties, it was commonly used for thermal insulation, electrical purposes, fireproofing and in the manufacture of concrete, paper and roofing materials.
At the moment, chrysotile is still used, but it is controlled by strict standards. As a result of this regulation, it is now only allowed in the manufacturing of high-density materials and products, which it is claimed poses a reduced health risk. To create these products, chrysotile asbestos is combined with another substance such as cement, resin or plastic. This secures the chrysotile fibers and prevents them from becoming airborne as easily. Many old products that contained asbestos were far more brittle or fragile because they were constructed without these bonding agents. When handled incorrectly, these products would release dust and asbestos particles into the air where they could be inhaled or ingested. Nevertheless, any product containing asbestos poses a cancer risk, as these fibers can never be encapsulated to the point where the mesothelioma risk is totally eliminated.
Chrysotile asbestos is still used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products. To increase heat resistance, a number of household appliances, including toasters, ovens, irons and refrigerators, may contain the substance. Insulating materials, such as ceilings and pipe coverings, may also be composed of chrysotile asbestos. Cement products account for the majority of manufactured goods that contain asbestos. In addition, this mineral can be present in brakes for automobiles or elevators, disk pads, roof sealants, caulking and military or nuclear components. These products are both less expensive and more durable when compared to similar goods that do not contain chrysotile.
Safety of Chrysotile
After recent research, even extremely low levels of asbestos have been deemed unsafe. It has been proven that excessive, prolonged exposure to the substance leads to mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and other illnesses and conditions related to asbestos exposure. People who live near chrysotile mining areas also experience an unusually high rate of asbestos-related illnesses. Even modern asbestos-containing products degrade and break down over time, and it is possible that the dangerous material can be released when this occurs. While a number of countries continue to export this mineral to third world nations for huge profits, other nations oppose this act and are campaigning to have chrysotile labeled as a toxic substance.