Facts about Asbestos Exposure and Your Health 

What is Asbestos ?

Asbestos is the name of a group of similar minerals that can separate into long and thin fibers. The fibers are so small that you cannot see them.

What are the Health effects of asbestos exposure?

Asbestos can cause health problems when it is breathed into the lungs. Continued exposure increases the amount of fibers that stay in the lungs. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may result in lung diseases such as pleural disease (the lining of the chest wall), asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Important! - Being exposed to asbestos does not mean you will develop health problems. Asbestos has been used widely in the United States; nearly everyone has been exposed to low levels of asbestos at some time in their lives. However, most people do not become ill from such exposures. Many things need to be considered when evaluating whether you are at risk for health problems from asbestos exposure.

How are Asbestos‐related health problems Detected?

Identify: Asbestos‐related conditions can be difficult to identify. Healthcare providers usually identify the possibility of asbestos exposure and related health conditions, like lung and pleural disease, by taking a thorough medical history. This includes looking at the person’s medical, work, cultural and environmental history.

Diagnose: After a doctor suspects an asbestos‐related health condition, he or she can use a number of tools to help make the actual diagnosis. Some of these tools are chest x‐ray and pulmonary function tests. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist who treats diseases caused by asbestos.

What to do if you have been exposed to asbestos?

Take Action:

  • Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, quit smoking. Smoking combined with asbestos exposure greatly increases the risk of getting lung cancer.
  • Get regular influenza (flu) and pneumonia shots. Regular shots help decrease the chance of lung infections.

Where you can get more information?

Contact ADH or ATSDR:
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)
For more information on asbestos exposure and your health, please call
1‐800‐CDC‐INFO (1‐800‐232‐4676) or visit our Web site at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos

Arkansas Department of Health (ADH)
Environmental Epidemiology
4815 W. Markham St., Slot‐32
Little Rock, AR 72205 ∗ 501‐661‐2893