Asbestos and other types of hazardous materials (HazMats) are a present-day topic. IAAF wishes to inform and advise on the safe handling of asbestos and other HazMats.

  • What is asbestos?

In both modern and ancient Greek, the name for  ‘asbestos’ is amiantos (“undefiled”, “pure”), which was adapted into the French ‘amiante‘ and Portuguese ‘amianto‘.

Asbestos today refers to a group of six types of naturally occurring minerals that are made up of fine, durable fibers that are resistant to heat, fire and multiple chemicals.

There are two main groups of fibers: Serpentine and Amphibole class fibers.
– Serpentine class fibers are curly. Chrysotile is the only member of the serpentine class.
– Amphibole class fibers are needle-like. Amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite are members of the amphibole class.

  • Origins

Although asbestos has been mined for over 4.500 years (Finland) recent major mining areas are Canada (where mining was banned in 2012), the Ural in Russia (the biggest mining area today) and China.

  • Uses or applications

The durability of asbestos and its resistance to heat, fire and chemicals makes it very suitable to be used in construction, with applications such as fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, and drywall joint compound.

In Japan, especially after 1945, asbestos was used in the manufacture of ammonium sulfate for purposes of rice production, sprayed upon the ceilings, iron skeletons, and walls of railroad cars and buildings, and used for energy efficiency reasons.

  • Health impact

All types of asbestos fibers are known to cause serious health hazards in humans, causing asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.