Amosite asbestos is more commonly referred to as "brown" asbestos and sometimes "gray" asbestos. This form of asbestos was found and is mined in South Africa and is considered to be one of the more hazardous forms of the material, second only to "blue" asbestos. In fact, a large portion of South Africans who worked in the many asbestos mines there have been sickened with some sort of asbestos-related disease. Countless numbers have died.
From the amphibole group - which is naturally more hazardous than serpentine asbestos - amosite asbestos was, at one time, the second most prevalent type of asbestos found in building materials, accounting for about 5% of all asbestos used in factories and other commercial buildings. Its color comes from the natural presence of iron and magnesium found in this form of asbestos.
The amosite variety of asbestos was used primarily as a fire retardant in thermal insulation products, like ceiling tiles. Brown asbestos is now banned in most countries and has been for a number of years, but it can still be found in older products and structures, therefore still posing potential dangers, especially because this form of asbestos is highly friable. That means it crumbles easily when damaged, therefore releasing airborne fibers which can then be inhaled by those in the vicinity of the material.
Last modified: February 04, 2011.