What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral, mined from rock found in many countries including Russia, Canada, South Africa and Australia. It is made up of tiny fibres as strong as steel, that can be woven like cotton and are highly resistant to heat and chemicals.

Asbestos was dubbed the ‘Magic Mineral’ because of its unique properties. From the 1860s it was used in thousands of products and buildings all over the world. There are three main types of asbestos that have been used in this country: brown asbestos (amosite); blue asbestos (crocidolite) and white asbestos (chrysotile).
From the late 1880s it was realised that this ‘Magic Mineral’ had a damaging effect on health, but employers and successive Governments often failed to act to protect workers. It was not until 1985/6 that blue and brown asbestos were banned in the UK, and not until November 1999 that white asbestos was finally banned in the UK.