If you breathe in the fibers over long periods of time, you increase your risk for diseases like lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Smokers are even more affected. That’s because cigarette smoke irritates lung passages. This makes it harder for the lungs to remove asbestos fibers.
But the fibers that form asbestos separate easily into tiny pieces when they’re handled or damaged. They’re too small to see, and they’re easy to breathe in. They can build up in your lungs and cause health problems.
If you’ve worked with the substance, shared a home with someone who has, or lived close to an asbestos mine, see your doctor if you have trouble breathing or believe it’s affected your health.
This is a condition that affects the lungs. It can cause cough, shortness of breath, and even permanent lung damage. Symptoms might also include chest pain, and fingernails and toenails that look oddly wide or round. Like mesothelioma, it doesn’t usually occur until years after a person has breathed in asbestos fibers on a regular basis.