Asbestos Related Diseases
In Australia in 2008, 628 people died of mesothelioma and 109 of asbestosis. The number of deaths caused by lung cancer and other diseases related to asbestos exposure is unknown.
This is a rare form of cancer associated with breathing in asbestos dust and fibres. It is a cancer in the pleura (lining) of the lungs and the chest wall. It can also occur in the peritoneum - the lining of the abdominal cavity.
Australia has the highest incidence of mesothelioma in the world. Because of the heavy use of asbestos by the building industry in the 40 years following the Second World War, this is likely to continue.
Usually to develop asbestosis you need to be heavily exposed to asbestos dust and fibres. Asbestos fibres can lodge in, and cause scarring in your lungs. Asbestosis can cause shortness of breath and in some cases can be fatal.
Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos is at risk of developing lung cancer. This risk is greatly increased if you are a smoker. When a cigarette smoker is exposed to asbestos, the risk of lung cancer increases by 50 to 84 times: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: www.atsdr.cdc.gov
Pleural plaques are generally scarring on the lung which is an indicator you have been exposed to asbestos fibres.