On Advice Blog

Asbestos - Fighting Climate Change

9th Oct 2020

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Some of my clients and colleagues have heard of the recent concept of Asbestos being utilised to draw down and lock up atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (a Greenhouse Gas) using cyanobacteria. I was asked for an opinion.  I’ve had a quick look into Carbon capture using asbestos, and although it is very expensive at the moment, and it is massively more cost effective to plant trees, it is something that could become an option. The theoretical science seems to support that it is possible and could become feasible as the cost for carbon off-setting rises. In simple terms (which is the way my brain works best) the Carbon atoms attach to the minerals in the rock and become locked up as a carbonate. This could be any mineral mined but asbestos fibrils have such a large surface area and therefore asbestos mining waste would be more efficient. As far as I understand the capture would be at old mining sites and there is no suggestion that Asbestos would be used any more widely than it is now, and if all the worlds mines ceased production the ex-mines would still be available for the capture process.  

As an occupational issue it is not something that needs to confound the our decision making process, and I for one would still be supporting a world ban on commercial Asbestos production.