In materials science, friability (/ˌ f r aɪ . ə ˈ b ɪ l ə t i / FRY -ə-BIL -ə-tee), the condition of being friable, describes the tendency of a solid substance to break into smaller pieces under duress or contact, especially by rubbing. The opposite of friable is indurate.
Substances that are designated hazardous, such as asbestos or crystalline silica, are often said to be friable if small particles are easily dislodged and become airborne, and hence respirable (able to enter human lungs), thereby posing a health hazard.
Tougher substances, such as concrete, may also be mechanically ground down and reduced to finely divided mineral dust. However, such substances are not generally considered friable because of the degree of difficulty involved in breaking the substance's chemical bonds through mechanical means. Some substances, such as polyurethane foams, show an increase in friability with exposure to ultraviolet radiation, as in sunlight.
Friable is sometimes used metaphorically to describe "brittle" personalities who can be "rubbed" by seemingly-minor stimuli to produce extreme emotional responses.