Asbestosis is a chronic chest disease caused by inhalation of high concentrations of asbestos fibres. The condition can develop 10 to 20 years after initial exposure. Asbestos fibres initially damage cell membranes in the lungs and, as a result, the lung tissue becomes hardened and scars.
Symptoms of asbestosis include shortness of breath after exercise, persistent coughing, chest pain, phlegm, lung infections, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.
Early abnormalities of asbestosis are difficult to detect in a lung X-ray, however, as the disease progresses the X-ray is characterised by a cloudy, ground glass appearance.