Asbestos is the name of a group of minerals with long, thin fibers. It was once used widely as insulation. It also occurs in the environment. Asbestos fibers are so small you can't see them. If you disturb asbestos, the fibers can float in the air. This makes them easy to inhale, and some may become lodged in the lungs.
If you breathe in high levels of asbestos over a long period of time, the fibers can build up in the lungs. This causes scarring and inflammation, and can affect breathing. Eventually it can lead to diseases such as
- Asbestosis, or scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe
- Mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or abdomen
- Lung cancer
Lung diseases associated with asbestos usually develop over many years. People who become ill from asbestos are usually exposed on the job over long periods of time. Smoking cigarettes increases the risk.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- Asbestos (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- Asbestos (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) Available in Spanish
- Asbestos (American Cancer Society) Available in Spanish
- Asbestos (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk (National Cancer Institute) Available in Spanish
- Asbestos Information (Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation)
- Health Effects of Exposure to Asbestos (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Working with Patients: Diagnosis (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- How Are Asbestos-Related Lung Diseases Treated? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Asbestos: Protect Your Family (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Basic Information about Asbestos in Drinking Water (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Current Best Practices for Preventing Asbestos Exposure Among Brake and Clutch Repair Workers (Environmental Protection Agency) Available in Spanish
- Protect Your Family from Asbestos-Contaminated Vermiculite Insulation (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Talc (Food and Drug Administration)
- Tox Town (National Library of Medicine) Available in Spanish
Pictures & Photographs
- Asbestos Photos (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- Asbestos Toxicity (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Asbestosis (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Pathological confirmed diagnosis of asbestosis: the first case report in...
- Article: Ultra-low-dose chest computer tomography screening of an asbestos-exposed population in...
- Article: Carcinogenicity of fluoro-edenite, silicon carbide fibres and whiskers, and carbon...
- Asbestos -- see more articles
- TOXMAP (National Library of Medicine) - Create maps showing locations of toxic chemical releases
- Asbestos and School Buildings (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances)