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How Does Asbestosis Develop?

Posted on by Asbestos Waste Solutions Limited

Asbestosis is a form of pulmonary fibrosis which usually occurs after five years of regular exposure to asbestos particles in the atmosphere, but can manifest over 30 years later. In this article, the Asbestos Waste Solutions team will be taking a look at asbestosis in greater detail, ensuring that our readers are armed with the proper knowledge when dealing with this illness.


How does it develop?

Once asbestos has been inhaled, due to the needle-like fibres of which it’s composed, it can very easily get lodged in the lungs. Ultimately, this means a buildup of scar tissue can occur when the body’s immune system tries to reject it. The scar tissue is particularly dangerous as it causes the lungs to stiffen, making it much more difficult for the lungs to fill properly with air and provide the body with enough oxygen.

A general term for lung disease which is caused by scarring is called “pulmonary fibrosis”. While there are many factors which may cause pulmonary fibrosis, if a patient has a history of asbestos exposure, then an asbestosis diagnosis may be necessary. It’s worth noting that the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of asbestosis.

Asbestosis latency period

Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of asbestosis is its latency period. That is, the disease doesn’t usually develop until years after the exposure that initially caused. In most cases, symptoms of asbestosis take 20 to 30 years to properly develop, however, the latency period will depend on the duration and the intensity of the exposure.

Imaging scans and other clinical testing can detect signs of asbestosis before major symptoms arise. If you have been exposed to asbestos and begin to feel out of breath on occasion, make sure to get checked out by a doctor with experience in detecting asbestos-related illnesses.

Historical facts about asbestosis

  • Henry John Wards, an asbestos industry pioneer who founded the precursor of the John Manville Corporation in 1858, died of what was then called “dust phthisis pneumonitis”, now believed to have been asbestosis.
  • The first official case of asbestosis was recorded in 1899. The patient was the only survivor of 10 men who had worked in a carding room of an asbestos factory, where raw asbestos fibres were cleaned and separated.
  • By 1918 the causal relationship between asbestos exposure and the development of asbestosis was so strong that the Prudential Insurance Company refused to issue life insurance policies to asbestos workers because of their early mortality.


Here at Asbestos Waste Solutions, we recognise the need for a fully safe, reliable and environmentally responsible approach to collecting and disposing of asbestos products. Founded in 2009, and with over 20 years of experience prior to that, our experts provide a fully comprehensive, accredited service that you can rely on. If you think you may be at risk, or simply require more information, contact our professional team today to chat to one of our friendly advisors.

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