Asbestosis is a disease caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. When these fibers are present in the air and workers inhale them over time, their lungs can become damaged, resulting in scarring and shortness of breath. Some people have only mild asbestosis symptoms, but others may have a severe case that makes it very hard to breathe and live a normal life.
Symptoms of this chronic lung disease can suddenly occur years after the exposure, making it sometimes difficult to identify where and when the exposure occurred. In today's workplaces, it's unlikely for anyone to be exposed to asbestos in high enough quantities to cause this disease. Most cases involve people who were exposed before the 1970s, when the government finally regulated the use of the mineral product.