Asbestos Related Disorders

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Asbestos-related disorders facts

  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been linked to human lung disease.
  • All forms of asbestos increase the risk of lung disease.
  • The three types of asbestos-related lung disease are scarring (asbestosis), non-cancerous disease of the tissue of the lining of the surface of the lung (pleural disease), and lung cancer (of the lungs or their outer lining tissue [mesothelioma]).
  • Asbestosis is a process of lung tissue scarring caused by asbestos fibers.
  • Asbestos is the only known risk factor for malignant mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissue lining the lung (pleura) or abdomen (peritoneum).
  • The time between exposure to asbestos and the development of cancer can be anywhere from 10 to 40 or more years.
  • Smoking appears to increase the frequency and/or the rate of progression of asbestosis.
  • Diagnosis of asbestosis or asbestos-related lung diseases and cancer is often made using chest X-rays or CT scans of the lungs.
  • Treatment of asbestos-related diseases includes appropriate vaccinations, treatment of lung infections, smoking cessation, and the use of oxygen if necessary.
  • If asbestos is suspected in a building, an expert in asbestos abatement should be consulted for inspection, correction, and maintenance.

What is the definition asbestos?

Asbestos is a family of naturally occurring silica compounds (similar to, but not the same as, the silica of window glass and computer chips). These substances form fibers with varying shapes and sizes and are found throughout the earth. There are three commonly available types of asbestos:

  1. chrysotile (white asbestos),
  2. amosite (brown asbestos), and
  3. crocidolite (blue asbestos).

All three have been associated with cancerous and non-cancerous lung disease.

Asbestos has been used frequently in a variety of building materials for insulation and as a fire retardant, and in brake pads in cars. Today, it is found most commonly in older homes - in pipes, furnaces, roof shingles, millboard, textured paints, coating materials, and floor tiles.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/16/2013

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Asbestos - Asbestiosis Signs Question: What were the signs and symptoms of asbestiosis in you or someone you know?
Asbestos - How to Limit Exposure Question: If you've worked with asbestos, what is the best way to limit exposure?
Asbestos - Asbestiosis Diagnosis Question: What types of tests or exams led to a diagnosis of asbestiosis?
Asbestos - Asbestiosis Treatment Question: What forms of treatment have you received for asbestiosis? Did you quit smoking?
Asbestos - Pleural Disease Question: Please describe how you or your loved one deals with asbestos-related pleural disease.

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