Palygorskite, a fibrous clay mineral, is being used as a substitute for asbestos in some applications. Nine specimens obtained from different geological locales were studied for mineral purity, elemental composition, fibre size distribution, and surface binding characteristics. The membranolytic activity of each was determined using a human erythrocyte model. The membranolytic behaviour and surface binding characteristics were compared with three chrysotile specimens employed as positive controls. The palygorskite specimens derived from the different geological locales display a range of physicochemical properties. This study shows the importance of selecting several mineral specimens for a health hazard evaluation. The current carcinogenic classification of the mineral may be limited due to the number of specimens used for that particular evaluation.
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