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Description:Under a low magnification of 100X, this scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image revealed some of the microcrystalline ultrastructure exhibited by a piece of raw chrysotile, or white asbestos, which had been excavated from the Lowell Asbestos Mine on Belvidere Mountain, Vermont.

Note the elongated crystalline structure, and how the fibrils are arranged in both bundles, and as singular serpentine units. See PHIL 11034 through PHIL 11066, for additional photomicrographic views of this material.
There is a scientific debate concerning the differences in the extent of disease caused by different fiber types and sizes. Some of these differences may be due to the physical and chemical properties of the different fiber types. For example, several studies suggest that amphibole asbestos types (tremolite, amosite, and especially crocidolite) may be more harmful than chrysotile, particularly for mesothelioma. Other data indicate that fiber size dimensions (length and diameter) are important factors for cancer-causing potential. Some data indicate that fibers with lengths greater than 5.0µm are more likely to cause injury than fibers with lengths less than 2.5µm. (1µm is about 1/25,000 of an inch.) Additional data indicate that short fibers can contribute to injury. This appears to be true for mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. However, fibers thicker than 3.0µm are of lesser concern, because they have little chance of penetrating to the lower regions of the lung.

High Resolution: Click here for hi-resolution image (5.44 MB)
Content Providers(s):CDC/ John Wheeler, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.
Creation Date:2009
Photo Credit:Janice Haney Carr
Links:Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) - Asbestos
CDC Organization
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Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.