Pleural plaques are the most common type of asbestos related disease. They are an indicator of past asbestos exposure.
What causes pleural plaques?
Pleural plaques are caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust which has migrated through the lung into the pleura. An irritation or fibrosis occurs which causes scarring on the lining of the lung. As the years go by pleural plaques can become calcified, becoming more obvious on chest x-rays or CT scans.
Past asbestos exposure
Although pleural plaques are an indicator of previous asbestos exposure, they do not cause other asbestos related conditions. As pleural plaques indicate past asbestos exposure, sufferers are at risk of contracting other asbestos related diseases and are often monitored with regular chest x-rays and/or CT scans.
In the vast majority of cases pleural plaques do not cause any symptoms such as shortness of breath. In some cases pleural plaques have been reported to cause chest pain.