While newer homes may contain asbestos, many victims of asbestos-related diseases are individuals who had spent years in homes built before 1980. Asbestos can be found in old floor and ceiling tiles, roof flashing, roof shingles, siding, various forms of insulation, pipe cement, and composites used to fuse sheetrock.

Also, many of those affected by asbestos work in blue-collar industries, such as coal mining, shipyards, pipefitting, railroad workers, and union work.

Asbestos exposure often affects the respiratory systems (lungs), but can also affect other areas of the body. 

Respiratory symptoms include: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough or wheezing
  • Cracking sound while breath
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Pleural effusion (build-up of water in the space around the lung)
  • Pleural plaque
  • Pleural thickening 
  • Asbestosis (a lung disease caused by fibrosis) that often leads to mesothelioma

Non-respiratory-related symptoms of asbestos exposure:

  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Pain of the stomach and pelvis
  • Bowel issues
  • Hernia development
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hoarse sound voice
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Clubbed fingers (a deformity of the fingers)

Asbestos exposure can also lead to the manifestation of numerous diseases.

Cancerous diseases linked to asbestos exposure:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Lung cancer
  • Laryngeal exposure
  • Ovarian cancer

non-cancerous illnesses related to asbestos exposure:

  • Asbestosis
  • Pleural plague
  • Pleural thickening 
  • Pleuritis
  • Atelectasis

Risk

According to asbestos.com, roughly 20% of those consistently exposed to asbestos develop an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma (6% to 10%), lung cancer (20% to 25%), or asbestosis (50%).

Screening

Screening for asbestos-exposure won’t likely produce results until symptoms are evident. Still, if you have been around asbestos for several years, testing for diseases related to exposure could be a lifesaver. Detecting mesothelioma or another disease could take multiple tests if you are attempting to locate an issue before symptoms have developed.