A form of PNEUMOCONIOSIS, in which widespread ﬁne scarring occurs in the LUNGS, leading to severe breathing disability. The main hazard, however, is the risk of cancer (MESOTHELIOMA) of the lung or PLEURA, or sometimes of the ovary (see OVARIES). It is caused by the inhalation of mainly blue or brown asbestos dust, either during mining or quarrying, or in one of the many industries in which it is used – for example, as an insulating material, in the making of paper, cardboard and brake linings. A person suﬀering from asbestosis is entitled to compensation, as the disease is legally proscribed. About 900 people a year in the UK claim compensation, and 600 of these for mesothelioma; most patients with asbestosis now being diagnosed have it as a consequence of industrial practices used before 1970. The use of asbestos is now strictly controlled and, when blue asbestos is found in old buildings, skilled workmen are employed to dispose of it.
Article Categories:Medical Dictionary