Asbestos fibers are microscopic particles that can cause serious health issues when inhaled. When these fibers enter the lungs, they irritate and damage the tissue, leading to a range of illnesses such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Asbestosis is an interstitial lung disease that causes inflammation and scarring in the lungs. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause pulmonary fibrosis, a type of scar tissue, to form inside the lungs.
This dust-induced disease is known as pneumoconiosis or occupational lung disease. Breathing in asbestos fibers increases the risk of developing lung cancer and mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the thin lining that surrounds the lungs and other organs. Cigarette smoking combined with exposure to asbestos further increases the chances of developing lung cancer. When dust is aspirated, asbestos fibers enter the lungs and can damage them gradually over time.
The fibers lodge inside the lungs and cause scarring and thickening around the air sacs, making it harder for oxygen to reach the bloodstream. This scarring causes the lungs to “shrink” and “harden”, making it difficult to breathe.The main difference between asbestosis and mesothelioma is that mesothelioma is cancer and asbestosis is not cancer. However, asbestosis indicates that a person has been exposed to enough asbestos to be at risk of developing asbestos-related lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma cancer.Nowadays, you are likely to come into contact with asbestos only if your job puts you at risk of damaging asbestos left in older buildings. People who work with or near asbestos (miners, asbestos abatement workers, custody and maintenance workers, and isolation workers) are more likely to be exposed than the general public.
If you suspect asbestos is present, hire a licensed asbestos abatement company to conduct tests and carry out any necessary removal projects. Smoking increases the risk of asbestos-related health problems because it irritates the lung passages, making it difficult for the lungs to remove asbestos fibers.