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What is Anthophyllite Asbestos?

Anthophyllite Asbestos is one of the rarest types of asbestos and typically has a brown or yellowish appearance due to its high concentration of magnesium and iron. Despite it’s sparse commercial use, it could still be found in cement, shingles, insulation, and tiles and thus, it’s important to understand how to identify it, where it was commonly used, and the health problems it can cause and this is what we explain below. 

An Introduction to Anthophyllite Asbestos

As Anthophyllite Asbestos is part of the amphibole mineral family, it has a high iron and magnesium content but it commonly has an earthy brown/red or yellowish coloration. Like other asbestos types, it is made from sharp, needle-like fibres which are why it is so hazardous.

The needle-like fibres can crumble and turn into asbestos dust and when inhaled, cause damage to the lungs. It is the rarest type of asbestos and did not see widespread commercial use but was nonetheless mined extensively, mainly in Finland and Japan. 

Like other types of asbestos, Anthophyllite is outright banned in the UK as per the 1999 Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment)[1] and you should not really find any in your property if it was built after 1990.

Quick Anthophyllite Asbestos Facts

  • Anthophyllite is actually an orthorhombic amphibole mineral and not all strains of it are classed as Asbestos.
  • This type of asbestos was extensively mined in Finland and Japen between the late 1800s and until the 1970s.
  • It is often referred to as Azbolen Asbestos.
  • Anthophyllite asbestos contains talc together with iron and magnesium ions.
  • A report showed that children may have been exposed to this type of asbestos as traces were found in Crayola crayons.
  • Compared to the other five types of asbestos, Anthophyllite was rarer and not as widely used commercially. 

Where is Anthophyllite Asbestos Commonly Found?

Anthophyllite Asbestos is actually the rarest type of asbestos in commercial terms and it wasn’t used in the same scope as types like Chrysotile and Amosite. On the rare occasions it was used, it was typically found in  the following products:

  • Asbestos-based cement.
  • Asbestos-based insulation materials.
  • Old roof tiles and shingles.

Use as cement and in insulation materials was the most common and it was only used in the earlier production of asbestos for roof tiles and shingles, before the 1980s. As a result, we do not expect that it will be found in many properties today. Anthophyllite asbestos can actually be found as a contaminant in Chrysotile in small quantities.

Does Anthophyllite Asbestos Cause Health Problems?

Although Anthophyllite Asbestos was used in much smaller quantities, it is still hazardous and can result in a range of breathing-related health problems including:

  • Mesothelioma (a form of irreversible lung cancer).
  • Pleural disease (fluid build-up in the lungs).
  • Respiratory problems such as shortness of breath.
  • Asbestosis (the main asbestos-related condition which causes lung scarring).

A detailed toxicology report on Anthophyllite Asbestos can be found here[2], but like other types, it can cause fatal lung cancer, and long-lasting respiratory problems. Health issues relating from exposure to Anthophyllite Asbestos are not typically instant and can take years to develop or become apparent.

This article is part of the "kinds of asbestos" series. Learn more about ChrysotileAmositeCrocidoliteTremolite

References

[1] – The Asbestos (Prohibitions) (Amendment) Regulations 1999

[2] – Science Direct Toxicology Report on Anthophyllite Asbestos

 

The content on this page/article was last updated on the 21st August 2023 by our team and was reviewed and fact checked by William Wright, DipNEBOSH on the 5th December 2023.

William is a qualified health & safety consultant who holds NEBOSH & IOSH certifications.