Asbestosis

Asbestosis

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Credit: RUSSELL KIGHTLEY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Asbestosis, computer artwork. Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate consisting of long, inert, rigid chains of silicon and oxygen (shown in yellow). Its resistance to fire and heat meant it has been widely used in a vast range of materials. However, inhalation of asbestos fibres results in the inflammation of lung tissue, which causes shortness of breath and may result in respiratory failure. People exposed to asbestos are also at greater risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma (cancer of the mesothelium which lines the internal organs).

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