Asbestos-induced cell damage is initiated by a reaction at the plasma membrane. The effect of chrysotile (which is more hemolytic and releases more silicic acid than other types of asbestos) on permeability changes of liposomes has been investigated. The destabilizing effect rises when the amount of chrysotile is increased. Silicon dioxide is one major constituent which could be a hemolytic agent, and a cause of damage. It also caused an increase of permeability of liposomes.