The Long-Term Health Effects of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos. Scar like tissue is formed around the lungs, known as pulmonary fibrosis which decreases the elasticity of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.

The first symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath, chest tightness, persistent dry cough, chest pain, loss of appetite, enlargement of fingertips known as ‘finger clubbing’ and nail deformities. In most cases, these symptoms do not begin to show until approximately 20 after exposure but can appear anywhere between 10-40 years.

The disease is generally diagnosed by a display of symptoms and chest x-rays showing small, irregular spots, commonly found in the middle or lower section of the lungs. Doctors will also use a stethoscope to listen to the chest and may be able to hear a ‘crackling’ sound when the patient breathes in.

Exposure to asbestos can cause manylong-term health effects, from lung cancer right through to non-cancerous abnormalities in the lining of the chest cavity or the ‘pleura’. The risk of lung cancer depends on a number of factors including the duration of time the person was exposed as well as the amount of asbestos they were exposed to.

Mesothelioma is a rare condition, usually associated with asbestos workers or those who have been heavily exposed. Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive, usually fatal cancer arising from the mesothelial cells that form the lining of the lung, abdominal and heart cavities. Symptoms include chest and shoulder pain and a persistent dry cough.

Non-cancerous abnormalities from exposure include localized deposits of collagen in the lung, fluid in the pleural space, diffuse thickening and fibrosis of the pleura and folded lung or rounded atelectasis.

Hazmat Services specialise in the testing and identification of asbestos. Contact our friendly team today for more information about our services.