Anthophyllite asbestos is the rarest type of asbestos. It was not used as often as other types in homes, office buildings or industrial manufacturing.

Just because it wasn’t used often doesn’t mean anthophyllite asbestos isn’t dangerous.

Exposure to anthophyllite asbestos can be just as deadly as exposure to any other type of asbestos, including crocidolite asbestos or chrysotile asbestos, two of the most common types. This fact is due to the sharpness of anthophyllite asbestos and the inability to see the loose asbestos strands floating in the air. These sharp fibers can cause cancer, including lung cancer and the rare cancer mesothelioma.


What Does Anthophyllite Asbestos Look Like?

Anthophyllite asbestos, also called azbolen asbestos, is a mixture of yellow and brown in color. One picture shows the rock as mostly brown but with yellow near the edges. The fibers are sharp and look like needles, which is how anthophyllite asbestos can irritate tissue linings and cause cancer

Anthophyllite asbestos includes magnesium and iron, which are minerals. Asbestos, also a mineral, often includes other minerals since all form in the earth’s soil and mix together. Any mining for magnesium or iron can mistakenly include anthophyllite asbestos.


What Was Anthophyllite Asbestos Used for?

Fortunately, anthophyllite asbestos was not used much in commercial or industrial jobs. It wasn’t the type of asbestos found mixed in talcum powders or the type around electrical wiring. If you are working on an old automobile, you likely won’t find anthophyllite asbestos around brake linings.

Penn Medicine’s website states anthophyllite asbestos was used in a few cement and insulation materials. It can also be found on old roof tiles or shingles. Therefore, it can be in some old houses or office buildings, primarily those built before 1990.


Why Is Anthophyllite Asbestos Dangerous?

While anthophyllite asbestos is rare, it’s not extinct. Exposure to this type is also not unheard of. Anthophyllite asbestos can cause mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

If anthophyllite asbestos breaks apart – meaning individual fibers splinter from the main rock source – it becomes dangerous. The loose fibers float in the air. They can be inhaled or ingested by anyone living in the old home or applying the asbestos to insulation or construction materials.

These fibers can puncture tissue linings and irritate cells enough to cause genetic changes. These genetic changes lead to the cells not dying when they should and instead multiplying quicker than they should. This process is how a tumor forms.

Exposure to anthophyllite asbestos may explain your cancer diagnosis, especially if you have lung cancer or mesothelioma and handled asbestos decades ago on a job. Please reach out to our registered nurse, Karen Ritter, at to see what you can do about your cancer diagnosis.

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About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.