What Colour is Asbestos?
While you may often hear asbestos referred to by colour, such as white or blue asbestos, you cannot actually identify the type of asbestos used by colour alone. However, there are three main types that you should know about, which can be a range of different colours.
Chrysotile (White Asbestos):
Chrysotile is known as white asbestos and was the last type of this material to finally be banned in the UK in 1999. While it is less deadly compared to the other types of asbestos, it is still a very hazardous material that can lead to fatal diseases such as mesothelioma. It was the most common type of asbestos to be used in building products and was included in a range of materials from cement products to floor tiles, roofing, and Artex. It was even sometimes used in bathroom furniture such as toilet seats.
Amosite (Brown Asbestos):
Although it is commonly known as brown asbestos, Amosite can be a range of colours including pale grey and green. This material was banned along with crocidolite in the UK in 1985. Compared to chrysotile, amosite asbestos fibres pose a higher risk to health. It was not used as often as chrysotile in construction projects, but may still be present in lagging, insulation boards, and sprayed coatings from before it was outlawed.
Crocidolite (Blue Asbestos):
Known as blue asbestos, the colour of crocidolite can range from pale grey to deep blue. Many believe that this is the most dangerous type of asbestos since the fibres are extremely thin, allowing them to remain in the air longer where they can easily be inhaled or swallowed. It was banned along with amosite in the UK in 1985.
Asbestos Colours and Other Types:
While asbestos types are commonly referred to as their most predominant colours, it is impossible to clearly identify them just by their colour alone. In fact, it is often difficult to see asbestos fibres since they are so small. To be sure, you will need a professionally carried out asbestos survey to determine whether a material contains asbestos and which type it is.
There are some other types of asbestos including tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite that were never used commercially in the UK. They are usually found as contaminants in other asbestos materials rather than being the main material used and do not have their own colour classifications. However, it’s important to bear in mind that all asbestos is dangerous and should only be handled by a trained professional.