What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral - divided into 2 mineral groups: Serpentine and Amphibole.


These have a sheet or layered structure. The Serpentine asbestos group contains one type of asbestos: chrysotile.


Amphiboles have a chain-like structure. The Amphibole asbestos group consists of several types of asbestos: amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite.

Chrysotile and amosite asbestos are most common forms of Asbestos.

Why and where was Asbestos used?

Although asbestos fibers are microscopic in nature, they are extremely durable and resistant to fire as well as most chemical reactions and breakdowns. For these reasons is was used for many years in a number of different building materials and especially as a fire retardant.

The strength of asbestos, combined with its resistance to heat, allowed it to become the material of choice in a variety of products including, roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products and automotive parts.

Is Asbestos safe?

Airborne asbestos fibres, which are easily inhaled, have been shown to cause cancer. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to asbestos in some capacity as a result of its extensive use in domestic, commercial and industrial products.

There is no safe type of asbestos and no safe level of exposure. Nearly all those with exposure history are potentially at risk of serious respiratory health complications.

Symptoms of asbestos exposure

Unfortunately, we still see huge numbers of cases where asbestos has caused lung and respiratory conditions such as:

Symptoms will vary depending on what asbestos condition someone has. Some of the common symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Persistent tiredness
  • Chest pain

Asbestos is now strictly regulated but we still see the devastating effects it has, and continues to have, on people today.

At Asbestos Action we can provide support to asbestos sufferers and their families including help accessing benefits and compensation for their condition.

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Providing one to one support for those diagnosed with an asbestos related illness

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Video about how Asbestos Action provide support for sufferers of asbestos related diseases
Scottish Charity number: SC 033344. Scottish Company Number: 231615
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