What Are Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases?
Asbestos-related lung diseases are diseases that develop from exposure to asbestos (as-BES-tos) fibers. Asbestos is a mineral that, at one time, was widely used in many industries. Asbestos is made up of tiny fibers that can escape into the air. When breathed in, these fibers can stay in your lungs for a long time. If the fibers build up in your lungs, they can lead to: • Pleural plaque. In this condition, the tissue around the lungs and diaphragm (the muscle below your lungs) thickens and hardens. This tissue is called the pleura. Pleural plaque usually causes no symptoms. Rarely, as the pleura thickens, it can trap and compress part of the lung. This may show up as a mass on an x-ray image. • Pleural effusion. In this condition, excess fluid builds up in the pleural space. The pleural space is the area between the lungs and the chest wall. • Asbestosis (as-bes-TO-sis). In this condition, the lung tissue becomes scarred. People who have asbestosis are at greater risk for lung cancer,