Asbestosis is a chronic (long-term) lung condition caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos is a general term for a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres. In the past, it was widely used in construction.
Asbestos canbe very dangerous.It does not present a health risk if it is undisturbed, but if material containing asbestosis chipped, drilled, broken or allowed to deteriorate,it can release a fine dust that contains asbestos fibres.
When the dust is breathed in, the asbestos fibres enter the lungs and can gradually damagethem over time. For asbestosis to develop, prolonged exposure to relatively high numbers of the fibres is necessary.However, it is not the only factor, as many people avoid getting asbestosis, despite heavy exposure.
This is becausethe symptomsare morelikely to get worse in people who smoke, andsmoking also increases the risk of Lung cancer in people with asbestosis.
If necessary, treatments such as oxygen therapy can improve the quality of life of someone with asbestosis.
However, people with asbestosis have a higher risk of developing other serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as:
Overall, more people with asbestosis die as a result of one of the cancers mentioned above, or from natural causes, than from asbestosis itself.
If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, you may be able to claim compensation. This can be done through:
Two of these called crocidolite and amosite were banned in 1985 (although voluntary bans came into force earlier than this) and the use of the third type (chrysotile) was widely banned in 1999.
However, despite these strict regulations having been in place for a number of years, large amounts of asbestos are still found in many older buildings.
It's thereforeimportant to take precautions to reduce your risk of inhaling asbestos fibres if you live or work in a building that may contain asbestos.
If you are concerned that your house may contain asbestos,you can seek advice from an environmental health officer at your local authority or council. Do not attempt to remove any materials that you think may contain asbestos yourself.
If your job meansyou could potentially be exposed to asbestos fibres, make sure you are fully aware of what you can do to reduce your risk. Do notattempt to remove any asbestos you come across, unless you have been trained in how to do this safely.
Read about preventing asbestosis .
Asbestosis is a relatively rare condition, because it takes a considerable degree of asbestos exposure to cause it, and regulations to restrict exposure have been in place for many years.
However, in 2011 there were 178 deaths directly caused by asbestosis and 429 where the condition was thought to have played a role. 980 new cases were assessed for industrial injuries disablement benefit during 2012.
Asbestosis is a chronic (long-term) lung condition caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a soft, greyish-white material that does not burn.
Asbestosis is caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. People working in certain trades are more likely to have been exposed to asbestos in the past.
When diagnosing asbestosis, your GP will first ask about your symptoms and listen to your lungs with a stethoscope.
There is no cure for asbestosis, as the damage to the lungs is irreversible. However, you can take steps to reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Although asbestos is no longer widely used in the UK, it's still important to take precautions to reduce your risk of exposure, because it's still found in many old buildings.