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Chrysotile or white asbestos is the most commonly encountered form of , accounting for approximately 95% of the asbestos in the United StatesOccupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor (2007). 29 C.F.R. 1910.1001. Appendix J. and a similar proportion in other countries.Institut national de recherche sur la sécurité (1997). " Amiante ." Fiches toxicologiques. n° 167. (in French) It is a soft, fibrous in the serpentine subgroup of ; as such, it is distinct from other asbestiform minerals in the . Its idealized is ()(). The material has physical properties which make it desirable for inclusion in building materials, but poses serious health risks when dispersed into air and inhaled.


Polytypes
Three of chrysotile are known. These are very difficult to distinguish in hand specimens, and must normally be used. Some older publications refer to chrysotile as a group of minerals—the three polytypes listed below, and sometimes as well—but the 2006 recommendations of the International Mineralogical Association prefer to treat it as a single mineral with a certain variation in its naturally occurring forms.

ClinochrysotileZłoty Stok*, , 1071a = 5.3 Å; b = 9.19 Å; c = 14.63 Å; β = 93°
Orthochrysotile, , 3025a = 5.34 Å; b = 9.24 Å; c = 14.2 Å
Parachrysotileuncertain 3083a = 5.3 Å; b = 9.24 Å; c = 14.71 Å
Source: mindat.org.
*Złoty Stok and Kadapa have formerly been known as Reichenstein and Cuddapah respectively, and these names may appear in some publications.

Clinochrysotile is the most common of the three forms, found notably at Val-des-Sources, Quebec, . Its two measurable tend to be lower than those of the other two forms.In principle, all polytypes of chrysotile should have three independent refractive indices: in practice, two of the three are so close as to be indistinguishable by experimental measurement. The orthorhombic paratypes may be distinguished by the fact that, for orthochrysotile, the higher of the two observable refractive indices is measured parallel to the long axis of the fibres (as for clinochrysotile); whereas for parachrysotile the higher refractive index is measured perpendicular to the long axis of the fibres.


Physical properties
Bulk chrysotile has a hardness similar to a human and is easily crumbled to fibrous strands composed of smaller bundles of fibrils. Naturally-occurring fibre bundles range in length from several millimetres to more than ten centimetres, although industrially-processed chrysotile usually has shorter fibre bundles. The diameter of the fibre bundles is 0.1–1 , and the individual fibrils are even finer, 0.02–0.03 µm, each fibre bundle containing tens or hundreds of fibrils.

Chrysotile fibres have considerable , and may be spun into thread and woven into cloth. They are also resistant to heat and are excellent thermal, electrical and acoustic insulators.


Chemical properties
The idealized of chrysotile is ()(), although some of the ions may be replaced by or other . Substitution of the ions for , or is also known, but rarer. A related, but much rarer, mineral is , in which all the magnesium cations of chrysotile are substituted by cations.

Chrysotile is resistant to even strong bases (asbestos is thus stable in high pH pore water of Portland ), but when the fibres are attacked by acids, the magnesium ions are selectively dissolved, leaving a skeleton. It is thermally stable up to around , at which temperature it starts to dehydrate. Dehydration is complete at about , with the final products being (magnesium silicate), silica and water.

The global mass balance reaction of the chrysotile dehydration can be written as follows:

\overset{Chrysotile\ (serpentine)}{2Mg3Si2O5(OH)4} ->{750^\circ{dehydration} \overset{Forsterite}{3Mg2SiO4} + \overset{silica}{SiO2} + \overset{water}{4H2O}
The chrysotile (serpentine) dehydration reaction corresponds to the reverse of the forsterite (Mg-) hydrolysis in the presence of dissolved ().


Safety concerns
Chrysotile has been included with other forms of in being classified as a human by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)International Agency for Research on Cancer (1998). "Asbestos." However, the study states " In some of these case reports and in other studies, asbestos fibres have been identified in the lung. Amphibole fibres have usually predominated, but in a few cases mainly or only chrysotile fibres were found." IARC Monographs on Evaluating the Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Supplement 7 . and by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These state that "Asbestos exposure is associated with parenchymal , asbestos-related abnormalities, peritoneal mesothelioma, and , and it may be associated with cancer at some extra- sites".Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATDSR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2007). " Asbestos Toxicity ." Case Studies in Environmental Medicine. In other scientific publications, epidemiologists have published peer reviewed scientific papers establishing that chrysotile is the main cause of pleural mesothelioma. See e.g., Smith, Allen "Chrysotile is the main cause of pleural mesothelioma", Amer.J.Indus.Med., Vol. 32, pp. 252 to 266 (1996)[8] Tossavainen A, "Asbestos, asbestosis, and cancer: the Helsinki criteria for diagnosis and attribution" Scand J Work Environ Health 1997;23(4):311–316 (stating that all types of malignant mesothelioma can be induced by asbestos, with the amphiboles showing greater carcinogenic potency than chrysotile)

Chrysotile has been recommended for inclusion in the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent, Rotterdam Convention: Chrysotile an international treaty that restricts the global trade in hazardous materials. If listed, exports of chrysotile would only be permitted to countries that explicitly consent to imports. , a major producer of the mineral, has been harshly criticized by the Canadian Medical Association for its opposition to including chrysotile in the Convention.

According to EU Regulation 1907/2006 (REACH) the marketing and use of chrysotile, and of products containing chrysotile, are prohibited. Amtsblatt der Europäischen Union, L 396 from 30-12-2006 (PDF 1,8 MB; S. 129)


Critics of safety regulations

1990s: Canada-European dispute GATT dispute
In May 1998, Canada requested consultations before the and the European Commission concerning France's 1996 prohibition of the importation and sale of all forms of asbestos. Canada said that the French measures contravened provisions of the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade, and the 1994. The EC claimed that safer substitute materials existed to take the place of asbestos. It stressed that the French measures were not discriminatory under the terms of international trade treaties, and were fully justified for public health reasons. The EC further claimed that in the July consultations, it had tried to convince Canada that the measures were justified, and that just as Canada broke off consultations, it (the EC) was in the process of submitting substantial scientific data in favour of the asbestos ban. EC measures affecting asbestos products. World Trade Organization News. 29 October 1998


2000s: Canadian exports face mounting global criticism
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Government of Canada continued to claim that chrysotile was much less dangerous than other types of asbestos. Chrysotile continued to be used in new construction across Canada, in ways that are very similar to those for which chrysotile was exported. Similarly, Natural Resources Canada once stated that chrysotile, one of the fibres that make up asbestos, was not as dangerous as once thought. According to a fact sheet from 2003, "current knowledge and modern technology can successfully control the potential for health and environmental harm posed by chrysotile". The Chrysotile Institute, an association partially funded by the Canadian government, also prominently asserted that the use of chrysotile did not pose an environmental problem and the inherent risks in its use were limited to the workplace.

However, under increasing criticism by environmental groups, in May, 2012, the Canadian government stopped funding the Chrysotile Institute. Asbestos Advocacy Group Shuts Its Doors, Montreal Gazette Canadian Cancer Society Disappointed with Proposed Federal Government Funding for Chrysotile Institute, 3 March 2012 As a result, the Chrysotile Institute has now closed. R.I.P. Chrysotile Institute, The Mad Scientist Blog> Asbestos Advocacy Group Shuts Its Doors, Vancouver Sun, 29 April 2012 "Minister Flaherty: Stop Funding The Chrysotile Institute", 2 Feb. 2011

The Canadian government continues to draw both domestic and international criticism for its stance on chrysotile, most recently in international meetings about the Rotterdam Convention hearings regarding chrysotile. The CFMEU pointed out that most exports go to developing countries. Canada has pressured countries, including , and other UN member states to avoid chrysotile bans. Stop Canada's Export Of Asbestos CFMEU

In September 2012, governments in Quebec and Canada ended official support for Canada's last asbestos mine in Asbestos, Quebec.


See also


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