EMU Volume 18 – Chapter 3

Mineral fibres: Crystal chemistry, chemical-physical properties, biological interaction and toxicity
(A.F. Gualtieri, editor)

 Chapter 3. Crystal habit of mineral fibres 
E. Belluso, A. Cavallo and D. Halterman

This chapter describes the crystal habit of mineral fibres. This topic is so complex and multifaceted that it deserves a detailed and systematic description in order to guide the reader through the jungle of the intricate, overlapping, sometimes contradictory definitions of ‘mineral fibre’ and the complex relationship between crystal structure and growth and overall crystal habit. The definition of ‘mineral fibre’ or ‘fibre’ itself is intrinsically chameleon-like because it assumes different meanings and relevance in different areas and scientific fields. As a matter of fact, if you ask ten different people to define what ‘fibre’ means to them, you may receive ten different answers. Even among specialists in the field of ‘mineral fibres’, there is no clear agreement on what we call a ‘fibre’. It is important to be able to rely upon indisputable and unanimous definitions and share a common language because the crystal habit of ‘mineral fibres’, especially asbestos, is considered one of the major characteristics affecting their toxicity, pathogenicity and carcinogenicity and hence it has a paramount importance for the social and legal issues.

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