Asbestosis

Last Updated: August 28, 2020

Definition - What does Asbestosis mean?

Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a fire resistant mineral that was used in many building materials before it was discovered to cause lung disease. Asbestosis develops when an individual inhales asbestos fibers. These fibers settle in the lungs, scarring the lung tissue. This damage causes the asbestosis sufferer to experience respiratory difficulties such as shortness of breath.

Materials such as floor tiles and insulation contained asbestos. Many industrial, military, and construction employees were exposed to asbestos in the workplace prior to the passage of government regulations limiting its use. People working and living in buildings undergoing renovations were also sometimes exposed to asbestos as older building materials were revealed during the renovation work but did not generally develop asbestosis due to limited exposure.

WorkplaceTesting explains Asbestosis

Asbestosis is a restrictive lung disease, meaning that the condition prevents a person's lungs from fully expanding. A person with asbestosis cannot breath as deeply as a normal person. The condition can be mild or severe. Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath and coughing. Individuals with asbestosis may also experience chest pain. Asbestosis usually does not develop in individuals who have had only limited exposure to asbestosis. Instead, the condition develops with prolonged exposure as the asbestos fibers build up in the lungs and cause scarring.

Exposure to asbestos can also lead to the development of mesothelioma and lung cancer. There is no cure for the damage caused to the lungs by asbestos exposure. Treatment for asbestosis may include oxygen supplementation or a lung transplant. Exposure to asbestos is less common now than when the material was widely used. However, because buildings constructed prior to the passage of regulations in the 1970's may still include asbestos containing materials, there may a be small risk of exposure when performing demolition or remodeling tasks.

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