(from the Tulane University's Safety Guide)


What is Asbestos?   

The word "asbestos" is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable.  Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is distinguished from other minerals by the fact that its crystals form into long, thin fibers.

The primary sites of commercial production are Canada, The Soviet Union, South Africa, and the United States.  Once extracted from the Earth, asbestos containing rock is crushed, milled (ground), and graded producing the long thread-like fibers of material.

Asbestos gained wide spread use because it was plentiful, readily available, low in cost, and because of its unique properties – it doesn't burn, it is strong, it conducts heat and electricity poorly, and is impervious to chemical corrosion.

Asbestos was banned in 1978 but is still available in building products at a lower concentration.

Types of Asbestos:

Asbestos minerals are divided into two groups – Serpentine and Amphibole.  The distinction between groups is based upon its crystalline structure.  Serpentine minerals have sheet or layered structure and amphiboles have a chain-like crystal structure.


  • Chrysotile – the only mineral in the serpentine.  It is the most commonly used type of asbestos and accounts for approximately 95% of the asbestos found in buildings in the United States.  Chrysotile is known as "white asbestos" named for its natural color.


  • Amosite – the second most likely type of asbestos to be found in buildings and is referred to as "brown asbestos."
  • Crocidolite – is utilized in high temperature insulation application and is referred to as "blue asbestos."

CHRYSOTILE                   AMOSITE                CROCIDOLITE


Uses of Asbestos:   

Asbestos may be a component of materials such as:

  • Ceramic tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Floor tiles and mastic
  • Fireproofing
  • Sheetrock joint compound
  • Plaster
  • Spray-on acoustical ceiling insulation
  • Roofing material
  • Drywall
  • Laboratory counter tops
  • Pipe insulation


Asbestos Awareness:   

The Office of Environmental Health & Safety (OEHS) provides asbestos awareness training classes to maintenance and custodial employees to inform them of the dangers of Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM) help them recognize suspected ACM and instruct them on how to report damages ACM.

Warning Labels:

"CAUTION:  Asbestos. Hazardous. Do Not Disturb Without Proper Training and Equipment"

"DANGER: Contains Asbestos Fibers. Avoid Creating Dust. Cancer and Lung Disease Hazard"

These labels, which may be seen in areas of the University's buildings, indicate that asbestos-containing materials are suspected or have been identified in the material that is labeled.

               CAUTION                                        DANGER


Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000