For many years, asbestos was used as a fire-resistant material in construction. Cheap, natural, and durable, it was an obvious choice for industrial products, brakes, drywall, and insulation. During the second half of the 20th century it became very clear to medical professionals that asbestos was linked to serious long term lung damage. Unfortunately, even after its dangers were known, industry did not stop using asbestos.
Lung damage occurs because asbestos is actually a very fibrous material. Asbestos products or insulation that is disturbed—even by something as light as a touch—releases microscopic fibers into the air. These fibers can become trapped in the lungs, where they irritate the lung tissue and cause scarring over time.
When this scarring is severe, the medical term for it is Asbestosis. It is not a form of cancer like Mesothelioma, but it can become debilitating or even fatal. Asbestosis is not curable, and its effects can be suffocating in severe cases. Some individuals require a lung transplant, however, this is rarely possible.
Asbestos fibers typically are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Although victims of asbestosis tend to be tradesmen who were occupationally exposed to asbestos, some workers may not have even known they were breathing these fibers in, until it was too late. Even worse, because asbestos fibers are so strong, it is nearly impossible for the lungs to eliminate them. Victims of asbestosis usually develop some level of difficulty breathing which can lead to other related complications when severe.