1. A general term applied to certain fibrous minerals displaying similar physical characteristics although differing in composition. Some asbestos has fibers long enough to be spun into fabrics with great heat resistance, such as those for automobile brake linings. Types with shorter fibers are compressed into insulating boards, shingles, etc. Most common asbestos mineral (95 percent of United States production) is chrysotile, a variety of serpentine, a metamorphic mineral.
    Source: Leet, L. Don. 1982. Physical Geology, 6th Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
     
  2. a. A commercial term applied to silicate minerals that separate readily into thin, strong fibers that are flexible, heat resistant, and chemically inert, thus making them suitable for uses (as in yarn, cloth, paper, paint, brake linings, tiles, insulation, cement, fillers, and filters) where incombustible, nonconducting, or chemically resistant material is required. Since the early 1970's, there have been serious enviromental concerns about the potential health hazards of asbestos products, which has resulted in strong enviromental regulations.
    b. Any asbestiform mineral of the serpentine group (chrysotile, best adapted for spinning and the principal variety in commerce) or amphibole group (esp. actinolite, anthophyllite, gedrite, cummingtonite, grunerite, riebeckite, and tremolite).
    c. A term strictly applied to asbestiform actinolite. Syn: asbestus; amianthus; earth flax; mountain flax; rock wool.
    Source:
    Dictionary of Mining, Mineral, and Related Terms











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