4 Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

4 Health Risks of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a detrimental substance, often found in construction and repair sites. If inhaled too frequently or in a high volume, it can pose a number of health concerns for individuals.


Inhaling asbestos fibers causes a scarring on the lungs. This makes it difficult for a person to breathe because the movement of oxygen and carbon dioxide is obstructed. The scarred lungs don’t allow the two gases to flow in and out easily, causing breathing difficulties. Individuals who have had high contact with asbestos in the past are more prone to getting asbestosis.

The condition can go undetected or remain dormant for several years. Symptoms may not surface for many years after one has been exposed to a dangerously high content of asbestos.

Pleural Disease

Asbestos can cause the membrane around the pleural (chest) cavity and lungs to become thicker. This alteration can occur in isolated regions of the membrane, causing pleural plaques, or affect the entire membrane. It may also lead to an accumulation of pleural fluid near the lungs. While pleural disease is non-cancerous, the changes in the lungs lower their efficiency. Moreover, people may also suffer from severe breathing difficulties.

Lung Cancer

Asbestos is an extremely dangerous and prevalent carcinogen, responsible for a large number of lung cancer cases. When asbestos frequently enters the breathing pathways, it obstructs the air passages and forms a malignant tumor.

Individuals frequently exposed to high asbestos content are at a huge risk of getting lung cancer later on in their lives. The risk is particularly high for people who have an occupational exposure, such as through milling, mining, constructing, or manufacturing jobs. The symptoms may begin with persistent coughing and a painful breathing, escalating into chest pain and anemia over time.


Mesothelioma is another occupational disease that commonly affects individuals who are exposed to asbestos regularly. This rare type of cancer affects the membrane covering the pleural cavity and lungs. Similar to pleural disease, this too results in a fluid buildup in the pleural cavity, and the disease may not develop for years after the asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is a fatal disease which results in hundreds of deaths each year. It may take up to 20 years for symptoms to surface and the condition to progress, and usually require radiation or chemotherapy. The symptoms of mesothelioma include fatigue, constipation, and painful lumps, in addition to breathing difficulties and persistent coughing.

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