Asbestos is a fibrous mineral which is a very efficient insulating agent. It was used in a wide range of building and insulation materials throughout most of the 20th century. Its use in brake linings only ceased in 2003.
There is generally a latency period of 15 to 50 years between the exposure to asbestos and the development of the disease.
Once processed, asbestos fibre is very small needle like fibre. Some types of asbestos fibre have a jagged appearance like the barbs on some fish hooks. The fibres are easily inhaled and the lungs find it very difficult to get rid of them. Consequently, much of the asbestos fibre inhaled remains in the lung where it causes disease many years later.
Almost all asbestos related illnesses occur in the lung, usually a minimum of 10 years after inhalation but more commonly 35 to 40 years after inhalation. Consequently, most people who develop asbestos related illnesses are generally of retirement age.
Types of asbestos diseases
Asbestos exposure can cause the following diseases: