Indmedica - India's Premier Medical Portal - Cyber Lectures


Asbestos: Foe or Friend?

Furquan Ahmad Ansari, Iqbal Ahmad Mohd. Yunus and Qamar Rahman

Page 2


Asbestos hazards: Asbestosis It is the diffuse interstitial fibrogenesis caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibre (Billing and Howard et al., 2000). The features supported asbestosis are changes in the nail beds of the fingers and toes (Clubbing), increased dyspnea on exertion, and diffuse interstitial fibrosis with honey combing, decreased total lung capacity and force vital capacity, restrictive type of lung disease (Belis et al., 1989 and Rom et al., 1991).

Pleural Plaque Thickening of areas of the surface membrane of the lungs (the pleural) is found quite frequently in asbestos exposed persons. Pleural plaques are circumscribes areas of pleural thickening that are the most common x-ray finding with chronic exposure to asbestos. The plaque often become calcified and is the visible on chest radiograph (Selikoff et al., 1968). These plaques are calcified deposits that may cause pain and shortness of breath. Hyaline pleural plaque is discrete, white to yellow white, irregular shaped, frequently calcified, raised structure involving the parietal pleura in persons exposed to asbestos.

Mesothelioma is a cancer arising in the pleural and peritoneal cavity of the lung. Development of human malignant mesothelioma is strongly associated with asbestos exposure and around 5% of individuals exposed to heavy doses of asbestos over an extended period of time finally will develop this malignancy (Craighead and Mossman 1982). Mesothelioma has strong association with crocidolite and weak with chrysotile and Crocidolite asbestos (Szeszenia et al., 2000) and amosite appers to be the type of asbestos fibre with the highest potential for inducing mesothelioma. Diffused malignant mesothelioma is a fatal tumor arising from mesothelial cells or underlining mesenchymal cells in the pleura, peritoneum and pericardium. Approximate 80% of diffused malignant mesotheliomas occur in men exposed to mineral fibres in the work place and sometimes their family members also.

Safety control and measures:

  • Workers should avail the proper safety documentary procedure in regional languages to each worker and encourage following the same.
  • Label all asbestos containing containers/bags in regional language showing it is hazardous to the health.
  • The processing of asbestos should be in wet mode.
  • Workers should use ventilatory mask, safety shoes, gloves etc.
  • Wear separate clothes for work area and change them before leaving for house.
  • Always use covered trolley to transfer the asbestos to prevent the emission and accident to spread into the environment.
  • Management should organize educational training to educate the workers how to handle and process the asbestos keeping its dispersion into the environment.
  • Do not try to touch or smell or taste asbestos.
  • Smoking should be strictly banned in the working environment because it accelerates the asbestos related diseases.
  • Do permit to eat the liquid or solid at the place of working.
  • Provision should be there for taking bath after leaving work place area.


  1. Belis, D., Andrion, A., Desedime, L., (1989). Mineral pathologic changes of the lungs and asbestos exposure. Human Pathol. 20; 102 – 106.
  2. Billing, C. G., and Howard, P., (2000). Asbestos exposure, lung cancer and asbestosis. Monaldis Arch.Chest. Dis. 55:151 – 156.
  3. Case, B.W., and Sebastien, P., (1987): Environmental and occupational exposure to chrysotile asbestos: A comparative analytic study. Arch. Environ. Health. 42: 185 – 191.
  4. Craighead, J. E., and Mossman, B. T., (1982). The pathogenesis of asbetsos associated diseases. N. Engl. J. Med. 306: 1446 – 1455.
  5. Dumortier, P. F. Rey, J. R. Viallat, I., Broucke, C., Boutin, P., Vuyst, De., (2002).Chrysotile and tremolite asbestos fibres in the lungs and parietal pleura of Corsican goats. Occup. Environ. Med. 59: 643 – 646.
  6. Government of India., (1997). Statistics of mines in India Vol. II (non-coal). Published by the Director General of Mines. Dhanbad, Government of India.
  7. Government of India., (1999). Abstract of Statistics. Central Statistical Organization, Department of Statistics, Ministry of planning, New Delhi.
  8. Mansingha, B. K., and Ranawat, P. S., (1996). Mineral economics and occupational health hazards of the asbestos resources of Rajasthan. J. Geol. Soc. (India) 47; 375 – 382.
  9. Mossman, B. T., Kamp, D. W., and Weitzman, S. A., (1996). Mechanisms of carcinogenesis and clinical features of asbestos-associated cancers. Cancer Invest. 14: 464 – 30.
  10. Rahman, Q., and Athar, M., (1994). Asbestos-induced carcinogenesis. An Update. Advances in Biosciences (Review).
  11. Rahman, Q., Arif, J. M., Mahmood, N., and Khan, S. G., (1993). Asbestos and lung diseases: A mechanistic approach II. In “Sourcebook of asbestos diseases” Ed. G. A. Peters and B. J. Peters 8, Butter worth Legal Pub. USA.
  12. Rom, W. N., Travis, W. D., Brody, A. R. (1991). Cellular and molecular basis of asbestos related disease. Am. Rev. Res. Dis. 143: 408 – 422.
  13. Selikoff, I. J., Hammond, E. C., and Churg, J., (1968). Asbestos exposure, smoking & neoplasia. JAMA (204) 106 – 112.
  14. Selikoff, I. J., Sedman, H., and Hammond, E., (1980). Mortality effects of cigarette smoking among amosite asbestos factory workers. J. N. C. I. 65: 507 – 513.
  15. Szeszenia., Dabrowska, N., Wilczynska, U. S., Zymeczak, W., (2000). Mortality of workers at two asbestos – cement plants in Poland. Int. J. Occup. Med. Env. Health. 13: 121 – 130.

Furquan Ahmad Ansari, Iqbal Ahmad, and Qamar Rahman
Fibre Toxicology Division Industrial Toxicology Research Centre,
Post Box – 80, M. G. Marg Lucknow-226 001
E-mail: [email protected]

Mohd. Yunus,
Dean, Department of Environmental Sciences Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (A Central University)

Fibre Toxicology Division Industrial Toxicology Research Centre,
Post Box - 80, M. G. Marg Lucknow-226 001
E-mail: [email protected] Dean, Department of Environmental Sciences Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (A Central University)

1 2 Previous page Back