Textbook of clinical occupational and environmental medicine. Rosenstock L, Cullen MR, eds. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company, 1994 Jul; :254-263
Asbestos, also known as asbestiform minerals, is a term applied to a group of minerals that are naturally occurring, often magnesium-containing fibrous hydrated silicates. Six fibrous silicates are commonly referred to as asbestos, including the three most common commercial forms: chrysotile, or white asbestos; amosite, or brown asbestos; and crocidolite, or blue asbestos. Although there is some evidence that the biologic potency differs among the various fibers, from tbe point of view of the clinician, it should be recognized that the three main commercial types have been associated with all of the major malignant and nonmalignant asbestos-related conditions. The range of health effects from asbestos exposure is protean, including both pulmonary and nonpulmonary malignant and nonmalignant conditions. This section focuses on two major nonmalignant pulmonary sequelae: asbestosis and asbestos-induced pleural disease. Although these two types of outcomes-pleural and parenchymal-have distinct pathologic manifestations, it is helpful to consider them together, both because it is often difficult to distinguish their clinical effects and because although they can occur in isolation, they are commonly present in the same individual because both are dose-dependent outcomes of the same asbestos exposure.