The word asbestos is a commercial term to indicate a natural fibrous mineral which are divided by colours such as: white, blue and brown asbestos fibre. With the rough and needle-like structures and having not been used properly, brown and blue types of asbestos caused lung damages to long exposed people. However, the chrysotile fibre is curly, soft and  has been confirmed by scientists that will be disposed from the lung in 0,3 to 11 days or decomposed by the acid environment created by the macrophage.

Due to outstanding advantages, chrysotile fibre could not be replaced by any natural or artificial fibre. Having high physical durability, good frictional, fireproof, resist to alkali environment, insulation, persistent, anti-biotic and anti scattering, chrysotile fibre is considered as a suitable input material for over 3.000 products. This type of fibre is applied widely in the fibro cement production industry (especially the corrugated cement roofsheet in developing countries), insulation materials production, automobile industry, aviation, pharmaceutical, oil and nuclear industry, fireproof materials production and some other industries.

In order to protect community health and environment, most countries have wholly banned the mining and use of blue and brown asbestos. Only high-density chrysotile products are currently allowed to be manufactured and used safely and under strict control.

The differences in the use of chrysotile in the past and present

Before Now
Products Asbestos-cement
Low density
High density
Fibre types Chrysotile

Source: The chrysotile institute

Products Uses / Applications
Insulation Boards Partition walls, infill panels, boxings, ceiling tiles, fire breaks, door lining.
Asbestos Ropes Used to seal joints to boilers, flues, chimneys etc. gaskets, kiln lining, heaters.
Asbestos Cloths and Textiles Fire blankets, fire proof clothing, oven gloves, safety curtains.
Asbestos Paper Electrical insulation in switchgear, heat reflective layers to boilers and electrical storage heaters.
Gaskets To pipe flanges.
Friction products Brake linings, to road & rail vehicles, lifts and other machinery.
Asbestos thermoplastic or vinyl floor tiles Floor tiles, stair nosings, skirtings.
Asbestos Bitumen products Roofing felt, damp-proof courses, gutter linings, coatings on metals, sink pads.
Paints and surface coatings Textured coatings to ceilings and walls ‘ARTEX’.
Mastics, sealants, putties and adhesives Floor tile backing, seals to window/door frames.

The application of chrysotile on the world in detail. Source: Northern Insulation Contractors

Popular areas utilizing chrysotile 

Production with asbestos cement: the compound of asbestos – cement was invented in Austria in 1904 and used widely in many residential and agricultural structures in Europe in the 20th century, especially after the World War II. Nowadays, over 90% of chrysotile is applied in the production of construction materials containing cement such as pipe, roofsheet, tiles… These products are widely used in more than 60 developing countries and are favored thanks to its economical benefit and durability. In reality, the production of fibro cement roofsheet and pipe costs less money and energy than the production of other similar products. Furthermore, chrysotile – cement products contain only a small amount of chrysotile – 8 to 10% -, the rest is cement – around 55% – and natural coal ash – 35%. These are raw materials that could be easily found in local areas.

Friction materials: Thanks to the heat-resistance as one of the natural characteristics of chrysotile, this fibre is commonly used in the production of friction products such as aircraft , automobile brake pads, elevator brake, clutch…

Other products: chrysotile was used in the production of over 3.000 different kind of products. Recently, because of anti-chrysotile activities, this number has reduced. However, there is still a large number of industries utilizing chrysotile containing products such as textile, plastic, rubber, furnace door gasket, filling materials in high temperature environment, paper, military equipment and nuclear industry.

Chrysotile is commonly used in Vietnam in various applicable industries, such as production of anti-friction materials; production of Fused Calcium Magnesium Phosphate (FMP), boilers, building and repairing ships, products for military, national security and defense … Products containing asbestos including those of being imported and produced domestically.

Imported products containing chrysotile including: fireproof thermal isolation sheet with asbestos rolls, asbestos fiber cloth used in the electrolysis process of thermal power plants, heat-resistant fiber, asbestos panel, asbestos wire with copper core coated lead, asbestos insulation panel (for plastic press machine), asbestos lining sheet, asbestos fiber insulation plate.

Products containing chrysotile produced in Vietnam including

  • Serpentine mining for NPK fertilizer production: Until now, there are 17 asbestos mines located mainly in the North of Vietnam: Cao Bang, Hoa Binh, Son La, Thanh Hoa and Phu Tho provinces. 5 investigated mines among those are: Khu Cuoc mine, Khu Mon mine in Hoa Binh; Goc Me mine, Suoi Can mine in Phu Tho and Coc Lang mine in Cao Bang. Those are mines that have the ore capacity of 10.000 to 60.000 tons. The mineral in those mines is mostly chrysotile asbestos (white asbestos) and the finished product is serpentine powder, raw crushed ore and melted serpentine. Raw ore was mined from serpentine ore mine will be crushed and extracted in order to become ingredient for 500 NPK fertilizer factories in Vietnam. NPK fertilizer is applied broadly in the agriculture industry of Vietnam.

Pure chrysotile fibers imported in the form of powder and long fibers are used in production technologies of roofing sheets, conductor pipe, automobile brake pads, other civil thermal and sound insulation (over 3.000 products) such as:

  • Insulation material production: According to report from provinces/cities sent to Vietnam Institute for Building Materials in 2015, there is only one chrysotile brake pad producer – Viglacera packaging and brake pad Jsc., under the Ministry of Insdustry and Trade. The rest of the brake pads being used in automobile factories is mostly completely built unit imported.
  • Shipbuilding and repair industry: The shipbuilding industry in Vietnam is developing fast, especially along the coast. Large ship building and repair jobs, even foreign ships, are done by Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (VINASHIN).
  • Boilers in electrical generator and industrial area.
  • Fibro cement roofsheet industry: This industry has existed for more than 50 years since 1963 and has developed with 39 production facilities with a design capacity of over 110 million m2 / year and more than 5,000 employees. According to statistical information from Vietnam Chemical Agency (Ministry of Industry and Trade) in 2014, Vietnam imported approximately 64.000 tons chrysotile in 2012, 45.000 tons in 2013 and 54.000 tons in 2014 to produce roofsheet. Based on the development plan for construction material, the demand of AC roofsheet will raise to 91 – 101 million m² in 2015 and will reach 100 – 112 million m² in 2020.