Asbestosis is what doctors call an occupational lung disease, caused by inhaling harmful particles while at work. Diseases due to chronic inhalation of mineral dusts are called pneumoconiosis. The kind of lung disease or pneumoconiosis that develops depends on the size and kind of particles someone keeps breathing in. Fortunately, the body is able to get rid of most inhaled particles. Special cells in the lungs engulf them and make them harmless. But some particles like asbestos cause damage that can't be reversed.
Asbestos is the term for a group of minerals used in many industries. They are categorized based on their shape. Long, straight, rod-like asbestos fibres seem to be a greater health hazard than long, curly fibres. When inhaled into the lungs, asbestos fibres cause scars (pulmonary fibrosis) and may restrict lung movements (restrictive lung disease). Breathing in asbestos can also cause the two membranes covering your lungs (the pleura) to thicken.
The more you are exposed to asbestos fibres, the greater your risk of developing asbestosis or other asbestos-related conditions. You can be at risk for asbestos exposure if you work as a janitor, welder, electrician, plumber, construction worker, carpenter, boilermaker, insulation installer, shipbuilder, miner, or railway worker, or if you're involved in textile manufacturing. Construction work; demolition; renovation; and jobs that require the cutting, filing, sanding, or scraping of asbestos-containing materials may put you at a high risk.