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Asbestos and Other Fibrous MaterialsMineralogy, Crystal Chemistry and Health Effects$
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H. Catherine W. Skinner, Malcolm Ross, and Clifford Frondel

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780195039672

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195039672.001.0001

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Fibrous Minerals and Synthetic Fibers

Fibrous Minerals and Synthetic Fibers

(p.20) 2 Fibrous Minerals and Synthetic Fibers
Asbestos and Other Fibrous Materials

H. Catherine W. Skinner

Malcolm Ross

Clifford Frondel

Oxford University Press

A mineral is a naturally occurring, crystalline inorganic compound with a specific chemical composition and crystal structure. Minerals are commonly named to honor a person, to indicate the geographic area where the mineral was discovered, or to highlight some distinctive chemical, crystallographic, or physical characteristic of the substance. Each mineral sample has some obvious properties: color, shape, texture, and perhaps odor or taste. However, to determine the precise composition and crystal structure necessary to accurately identify the species, one or several of the following techniques must be employed: optical, x-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and diffraction, and chemical and spectral analyses. The long history of bestowing names on minerals has provided some confusing legacies. Many mineral names end with the suffix “ite,” although not most of the common species; no standard naming practice has ever been adopted. Occasionally different names have been applied to samples of the same mineral that differ only in color or shape, but are identical to each other in chemical composition and crystal structure. These names, usually of the common rock-forming minerals, are often encountered and are therefore accepted as synonyms or as varieties of bona fide mineral species. The Fibrous Minerals list (Appendix 1) includes synonyms. A formal description of a mineral presents all the physical and chemical properties of the species. In particular, distinctive attributes that might facilitate identification are noted, and usually a chemical analysis of the first or “type” specimen on which the name was originally bestowed is included. As an example, the complete description of the mineral brucite (Mg(OH)2), as it appears in Dana’s System of Mineralogy, is presented as Appendix 3. Note the complexity of this chemically simple species and the range of information available. In the section on Habit (meaning shape or morphology) both acicular and fibrous forms are noted. The fibrous variety, which has the same composition as brucite, is commonly encountered (see Fig. 1.1D) and is known by a separate name, “nemalite.” Tables to assist in the systematic determination of a mineral species are usually based on quantitative measurements of optical properties (using either transmitted or reflected light, as appropriate) or on x-ray diffraction data.

Keywords:   Acicular, Biopyriboles, Carbon fibers, Erionite, Halloysite, I-Beam, Micas

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