What Are the Main Types of Asbestos?

Asbestos is just the generic term of a class of naturally occurring silicate minerals and not many people know that there are actually six specific types of asbestos – Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite. 

In the below guide, we take a brief look at the main types of asbestos with their identifying characteristics. For more detailed information, you can check out our individual guides on each type of asbestos that are linked below. 


  • Appearance: White and chalky.
  • Rarity: Most common type of asbestos.
  • Associated Products: Gaskets, insulation, appliances, seals,Cement sheets, Artex, floor tiles
  • Health Risk: High

Chrysotile is the most commonly used asbestos and the one we most associate with the mineral in terms of appearance and texture. It has the characteristic white color and can easily be disturbed which mean it poses a significant health risk. Chrysotile saw much use commercially including gaskets, brake pads, cement, roofing products, seals, and insulation products.

Read more about Chrysotile


  • Appearance: Brown
  • Rarity: Relatively common.
  • Associated Products:  pipe insulation, insulation board, ceiling tiles
  • Health Risk: High

Amosite asbestos was one of the most used types and it saw great usage in cement sheets, insulation, and tiles due to its excellent durability and heat resistance properties. In terms of appearance, amosite asbestos was usually brown and the fibres were quite brittle which mean it caused a substantial health hazard. It was primarily mined in South Africa during the early 1900s.

Read more about Amosite


  • Appearance: Blue
  • Rarity: Less common.
  • Associated Products: Cement, tiles, insulation, spray-on coatings, pipe insulation
  • Health Risk: Incredibly high

Also known as blue asbestos, Crocidolite was commonly used to create insulating spray-on coatings for things like pipes but could also be found mixed with cement and floor and ceiling tiles. As the name suggests, this type of asbestos has a brilliant blue colouration of various shades and its fibres are needle-like which make it the most hazardous type of asbestos.

Read more about Crocidolite


  • Appearance: Grey, green, or white
  • Rarity: Less common.
  • Associated Products: Cement sheets, insulation, roof tiles, shingles
  • Health Risk: High

Anthophyllite was another main type of asbestos that saw fewer use. It was used commercially, and products containing this mineral included insulation, cement sheets, shingles, and roof tiles. It was mined extensively in Finland and Japan, and due to its high magnesium content, it usually has a brown or yellowish colour.

Read more about Anthophyllite


  • Appearance: Clear, brown, green, or grey
  • Rarity: Rarely used commercially.
  • Associated Products: Talc, gardening products, insulation
  • Health Risk: High

Tremolite is one of the least-used asbestos types although it was mined extensively in the USA. It saw minimum commercial use and was typically found in talc (talcum powder), gardening products when combined with vermiculite, and insulation. Tremolite typically has a dark green colour but it can be transparent or green depending on the other minerals present. 

Read more about Tremolite


  • Appearance: Grey, green, brown, and or clear
  • Rarity: Rarely used commercially.
  • Associated Products: Roof sheets, ceiling sheets
  • Health Risk: High

Together with Tremolite, Actinolite is the other type of asbestos that was rarely used commercially. It was more commonly found as a contaminant in other types of asbestos like Chrysotile and typically has a transparent, grey, or green colour. In its limited commercial use, Actinolite asbestos was found in insulation, sealants, and ceiling sheets when mixed with cement.

Read more about Actinolite

The content on this page/article was last updated on the 6th December 2023 by our team and was reviewed and fact checked by William Wright, DipNEBOSH on the 6th December 2023.

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