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[Asbestos as a risk factor for pulmonary diseases].

  • Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonila
Published Article
Przegla̧d lekarski
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2008
65 Suppl 2
PMID: 19621651


Asbestos is a recognised carcinogen, one of the most dangerous pollutants in the human environment. This is associated with a huge accumulation of asbestos-containing materials that, as a result of their degradation, release fibres that are practically indestructible. It is estimated that in recent years, asbestos was responsible for ca. 100 thousand death cases p.a. The pathogenic effects of asbestos on the respiratory system (the target organ) result from the inhalation of the respirable asbestos fibres suspended in the ambient air. The fibres accumulate in the lung tissue during the whole human lifetime, and the pathogenic effects become evident after a long period of latency, ranging from 20 to 40 years. A specific feature of asbestos activity is that the pathologies appear even after cessation of the exposure; another feature is the development of mesotheliomas associated with the environmental exposure. In Poland, the Act of 1997 banning the use of asbestos products has solved the problems associated with the occupational exposure in the asbestos processing industry, and prevented further accumulation of asbestos products. However, problems of the environmental exposures to asbestos remain unsolved. In spite that no worker has been occupationally exposed to asbestos during the recent 10 years, new cases of asbestosis, lung cancer pleural mesothelioma, non-malignant pleural diseases continue to be detected each year among the former workers of asbestos processing industry ("Amiantus" project). This paper reports on the current status of asbestos-related diseases in Poland and worldwide, risk of the development of lung cancers and asbestos-specific mesotheliomas and gives recent recommendations for diagnosing and certification of asbestos-related diseases.

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