Exposure to asbestos can result in diseases such as
- lung cancer
- pleural plaques
The risk of developing these diseases is thought to increase with the number of fibres inhaled. However, disease may develop after only brief exposure. Symptoms of these diseases may take 10 to 50 years to develop from the time of asbestos exposure. While some treatments are available, there are currently no known cures.
Asbestosis is usually progressive and does not reverse. It leads to respiratory disability and sometimes death from respiratory failure. Mesothelioma is also irreversible and always fatal.
Occupations most commonly at risk of asbestos exposure include
- demolition, roofing and construction contractors
- engineers (heating, ventilation or telecommunication)
- plumbers and gas fitters
- builders and building surveyors
- shop fitters
- fire and burglar alarm installers
- maintenance workers
- automotive repair workers
- asbestos removalists
- do-it-yourself home renovators