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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. Please call us on 0808 196 1861 or fill in the form below and we contact you.

Asbestos Related Diseases

Pleural plaques

Scarring of the outer lining of the lung.


A chronic lung disease which causes scarring of lung tissue.

Pleural thickening

Lung disease where extensive scarring thickens the pleura.


Asbestos related cancer affecting the linings of the lungs or abdomen.

Lung cancer

Cancer of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure.


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