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Lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of asbestos fibres. A pneumoconiosis found primarily in asbestos workers, asbestosis is also seen in people living near asbestos industries. Fibres remain in the lungs and many years later cause extensive scarring and fibrosis. Shortness of breath and inadequate oxygenation result; advanced cases include a dry cough. There is no effective treatment. The associated increased cardiac effort may induce heart disease. Cigarette smoking greatly exacerbates its symptoms. Lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma are more common with asbestos inhalation and asbestosis.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on asbestosis, visit Britannica.com.