Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory and scarring disease affecting the tissue of the lungs. People with extensive occupational exposure to the mining, manufacturing, handling, or removal of asbestos are at risk of developing asbestosis, lung cancer and, less commonly, mesothelioma.
Asbestosis specifically refers to fibrosis within the lung tissue from asbestos, and not scarring around the outside of the lungs. It is caused by the breathing in and retention of asbestos fibers.
If the asbestos fibers build up in your lungs, they can lead to:
- Pleural plaque – tissue around the lungs and diaphragm thickens and hardens. This tissue is called the pleura.
- Pleural plaque usually causes no symptoms. Rarely, as the pleura thickens, it can trap and compress part of the lung. This may show up as a mass on an x-ray image.
Asbestos fibers were commonly used in construction before 1975. Asbestos exposure occurred in asbestos mining and milling, construction, fireproofing, and other industries. Families of asbestos workers can also be exposed from particles brought home on the worker’s clothing.
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