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What is Tremolite Asbestos?

Tremolite Asbestos is among a group of asbestos types that have been highlighted by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) officially and is recognised among the others as some of the worst variants discovered to date, still, it was used like any other type of asbestos because of its durability and lightweight properties.

It is part of the amphibole family, which some experts believe is more dangerous than their serpentine counterparts. Amphibole types of asbestos can be denoted by their features such as being straight, stiff, and having needle-like fibres, these can very easily enter our respiratory system and become problematic. 

Fortunately mining for this type of asbestos is no longer practiced, even so, it has been responsible for many cases of cancerous related illnesses worldwide.

Quick Tremolite Asbestos Facts

  • Tremolite asbestos is a type of asbestos mineral that ranges in colour from clear to a dark green when iron is added to it.
  • Tremolite asbestos is most commonly found underground in dolomitic limestones after the rocks have metamorphosed, crystallizing on them.
  • Tremolite itself occurs after the metamorphism of magnesium and calcium rich sedimentary rocks.
  • Because of its properties it was commonly used in construction as with most other types of asbestos but was also found to be in cosmetics.
  • Tremolite converts to diopside at high temperatures, indicating metamorphic grade.
  • It can be found as contaminant in vermiculite chrysotile and talc, hence one of its uses, albeit inadvertently, in talcum powder.

Where is Tremolite Asbestos Commonly Found

Tremolite, although not one of the most common types of asbestos and no longer mined, can still be found today among older buildings around the world, it was used primarily in the insulation and plumbing systems of those buildings although it can also be found paint and roof tiles.

It is not uncommon for Tremolite asbestos to be found in gardening products too, as it is commonly combined with vermiculite which has good water retention properties. Another example in the gardening category would be soils, in which it is not listed as an ingredient but it is there all the same under vermiculite instead due to possible contamination.

Despite its more common hiding place among the world's older buildings and gardening products, trace amounts have been discovered in talcum powder products, this is most likely due to it being found naturally occurring next to talc deposits.

There was also an incident in the vermiculite mines in Libby, Montana where Tremolite[2] asbestos was discovered, which caused an entire city to suffer widespread exposure.

Does Tremolite Asbestos Cause Health Problems?

Finally, as with every other type of asbestos, even a one-time exposure can pose serious health risks and contact should be avoided where possible as per the HSE guidelines[3]. 

Tremolite is classified as a human carcinogenic and can cause a plethora of lung related diseases, in its fibrous form it is very toxic and any kind of exposure to it can inherently lead to respiratory problems and possibly even death depending on the severity of exposure.

Common diseases can range from asbestosis, pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma, and lung cancer.

This article is part of the "kinds of asbestos" series. Learn more about Chrysotile, AmositeCrocidoliteAnthophyllite

 

References



[1] – EPA Asbestos Guidelines
[2] – The Deadly Asbestos Legacy of Libby, Montana
[3] – Dangers of Asbestos from the HSE

 

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.