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.
In The Netherlands the number of asbestos-related diseases is increasing. An age-cohort model predicts a steep rise in pleural mesothelioma deaths up to 490 cases per year among men, with a total death toll close over 12,000 cases during 2000-2028. In the past decade the number of compensation claims for asbestos-related diseases has more than doubled, with increasingly verdicts in favor of claimants.