Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibers. Because these fibers are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity, asbestos has been mined and used widely in the construction, automotive, and other industries. Asbestosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos exposure typified by excess connective tissue in the lungs. Because the disease manifests in the lungs, common asbestosis symptoms include respiratory problems such as coughing, swelling in the neck or face, cracking sound when breathing, or difficulty swallowing.
A complete medical evaluation is needed before a proper asbestosis diagnosis can be made. This includes reviewing potential asbestos exposure, work history, symptoms and undergoing various tests and imaging scans that can detect lung abnormalities. Pulmonary function tests can be used to assess a patient's ability to inhale and exhale, and a computed tomography scan of the lungs can show flat, raised patches associated with advanced asbestosis. Treatments focus on a patient's ability to breathe. Caused by an inhalation of asbestos fibers, asbestosis is a lung disease that, over time, creates labored and painful breathing.
France banned all use of asbestos in the manufacturing and construction industries in 1996.Exposure to asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma cancer. Although France banned the use of asbestos 15 years ago, it was used extensively throughout the country – at work and in homes – through much of the 20th century.