Recent studies show that anyone who has exposure to asbestos will develop pleural plaques. The duration of the exposure does not have to be continuous, nor does it have to be in large quantity. This type of lung scarring will not progress into cancer, but can raise the risk of developing mesothelioma.
Asbestos is any one of six different minerals which has been used extensively in fireproofing, insulation, and manufacturing. It quickly gained popularity in many fields with it durability, natural ability to resist fire, heat, and damage from chemicals and electricity. It has also been linked to a number of health related conditions and as such has been banned in every country except the United States and Europe where it is given very specific limitations in its use.
The dust from asbestos is the problem. When the fibers are inhaled it then infiltrates the organs and membranes creating inflammatory responses and medical complications. Most of the public is unaware that there are two type of asbestos fibers, a water soluble chrysotile, and the problematic amphibole. The later is the type of fiber which creates the health conditions that are so well known.
Within 20 to 40 years a person who has been exposed will show signs. Lung scarring is commonly found as a secondary note on a chest x-ray for unrelated reasons. These formations are benign and people suffer no complaints as a result of growth.
The scarring occurs as a result of infiltration of the asbestos fibers into the pleura, or membrane, of the lungs. The body’s immune response is to form a capsule around the offending substance creating the plaque. These can be small or large and vary in location from the pleura, diaphragm, or inner side of the ribcage.
No treatment is needed for pleural plaques. The collagen and calcium based formations are not a risk to the life of an individual, for this reason the surgical removal is not recommended. A strong note of caution for those with the growths is to have regular health checks.
See the site of industrial disease solicitors, EAD for more information on occupational dermatitis and other work related illnesses.