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A generic name used to describe a family of naturally occurring fibrous hydrated silicates divided on the basis of mineralogical features into serpentines and amphiboles. Six varieties were of commercial importance :

  • serpentine : chrysotile Mg3 (Si2O5) (OH)4
  • amphiboles : actinolite Ca2 (MgFe)5 (Si6O22) (OH)2
  • asbestos grunerite ( amosite) : (FeMg)7 (Si6O22) (OH)2
  • anthhophyllite : (MgFe)7 (Si6O22)(OH)2
  • crocidolite : Na2Fe2+3Fe3+2(Si6O22)(OH)2
  • tremolite : Ca2Mg5(Si6O22)(OH)2

The six varieties are deemed to be asbestos only when they have a fibrous form

Note: Asbestos is no longer used because of the associated health risks

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