SCIMAT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIMAT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Asbestos fibres, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral form of impure magnesium silicate. The fibres are very resistant to heat and chemicals and so can be used to make fire- proof fabrics, brake linings, and electrical and heating insulation. It is also used to make a lightweight cement. Older types of asbestos, called amphibole, were crumbly (friable) and dusty, but newer chrysotile products are dense and safe if used properly. Asbestos is very toxic when inhaled as dust particles. Prolonged exposure causes a fatal lung disease known as asbestosis. Magnification: x1030 when printed 10cm wide.
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