Center for Asbestos Safety


Asbestosis refers specifically to the pneumoconiosis which is caused due to inhalation of asbestos fibers. This disease is characterized by slowly advancing, diffuse pulmonary fibrosis. The various types of pulmonary disorders related to asbestos exposure include:

Despite considerable reductions in occupational asbestos exposure, asbestosis remains to be a significant clinical problem. Imaging in diagnosis. The pathophysiologic mechanisms and clinical effects of asbestosis are discussed below.

Diseases that are caused due to exposure to asbestos can be avoided by reducing asbestos fibers and dust at the workplace. Since industries where asbestos is used have improved dust control, fewer individuals develop asbestosis nowadays. However, mesotheliomas continue to occur in individuals who were exposed to asbestos nearly 3 to 5 decades back. Asbestos-based materials used in homes can prove harmful only when these materials are to be removed or the home is to undergo renovation. In such cases, these materials should be removed by trained workers using safe removal methods. The risk of developing lung cancer in smokers who have been exposed to asbestos can be minimized if these individuals give up smoking. They also need to have a chest x-ray every year. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination is suggested for individuals who have been exposed to asbestos. This is to provide protection from specific infections that the workers may be more prone to.

Most treatments protocols for asbestosis can ease symptoms. For instance, oxygen therapy can be used to ease shortness of breath. Also, removing accumulated fluid from around the lungs can make breathing easier. In certain cases, lung transplantation has been used successfully to treat asbestosis. More on diagnosis.

Minimizing asbestos exposure levels is the best way to provide protection against asbestosis. According to the law in the U.S., a worker’s asbestos exposure levels should not be more than 0.1 fiber for every cubic centimeter of air. Federal laws mandate that employers in industries where asbestos products are manufactured, for instance shipyard and construction industries, should measure exposure levels and create restricted areas for carrying out asbestos work. Employers should also provide proper training to employees, protective gear, for instance face masks, and decontaminate hygiene areas.

A number of homes that were constructed prior to the 1970s have asbestos products, for instance building insulation, insulation used for steam pipes and hot-water, decorative and soundproofing material sprayed on ceilings and walls, older stove-tops and ironing board pads, and also specific types of patch compounds, textured paint, vinyl floor tiles, and roofing and siding shingles.

Normally, you should not be concerned about these products and materials as long as they are in proper condition and you are not doing anything that may disturb them or result in their disintegration. Only when these products are damaged, there is a risk of asbestos fibers or dust getting released into the air. In case you are planning to repair or remove any type of asbestos product, it is always better to get it done by a professional.

Center for Asbestos
Safety in the Workplace