Facts about Asbestosis

Asbestosis, like mesothelioma, is a disease that could be avoided if it was possible to avoid asbestos fibers completely. Unfortunately, asbestos remains a ubiquitous part of America. It won’t disappear anytime soon. Although many industrialized countries have banned asbestos, the United States is not one of those, preferring to just regulate a toxic substance that has proven to be deadly. It has value that businesses believe is worth the risk.
Here is a primer on asbestosis, just the facts and the figures:

  • Asbestosis is not a cancer, although it can increase the risk of developing either lung cancer or mesothelioma.
  • Asbestosis is a breathing disorder, a lung disease caused by a prolonged accumulation of asbestos fibers in the lungs. It causes scarring of lung tissues, leading to a gradual thickening.
  • Asbestosis symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they usually don’t appear until many years after the exposure to asbestos.
  • An estimated 125 million people in the world today are exposed to asbestos in the workplace, according to the World Health Organizations.
  • Despite active removal efforts throughout the country, an estimated 1.3 million general-industry workers in the United States potentially are exposed each year to asbestos. Many of those are involved in the manipulation during renovation or demolition activities that involve asbestos.
  • There are an estimated 1,880 tons of asbestos imported annually into the Unites States, according to a United States Geology survey for manufacturing.
  • More than 107,000 people world-wide die each year from asbestos-related, occupational exposure, from illnesses like lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
  • Asbestosis is caused exclusively from an exposure to asbestos.
  • The United States and Canada are the last two industrial countries in the world that have not banned asbestos, although regulations do exist. More than 50 countries have banned asbestos.
  • Asbestosis was identified as the underlying cause of death for more than 9,000 people in the United States from 1968 to 2005, according to the American Public Health Association.
  • The first official diagnosis of asbestosis, described in medical literature, was made in 1924 by an English doctor. The patient was a textile worker named Nellie Kershaw. Her death resulted in the first asbestos-related industry regulations, which began in 1932.
  • There is no curative treatment for asbestosis. Treatments include oxygen therapy at home, which often relieves the shortness of breath and removes secretions from the lungs.
  • It can take anywhere from 10-50 years for symptoms of asbestosis to occur following a first exposure to asbestos.


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