Workers who have a history of asbestos exposure in Virginia should be checked often for asbestos-related illnesses. Those who worked in the armed forces, refineries, auto factories, shipyards and chemical plants in Virginia??before the 1980s should tell their doctors about their potential exposure to asbestos. Early detection is important in many cases of asbestos-related diseases, as even lung cancers have a better prognosis when caught early.
Caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, asbestosis is a scarring of the lower lobes of the lungs. Virginia workers who were employed in certain industries, such as shipbuilding, automotive repairs and mining, should be on alert for asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases. At-risk workers in Virginia who have a history of asbestos exposure should see their physicians for periodic asbestosis screenings. To detect asbestosis, the physician will take an x-ray of the lungs, which will be evaluated by a certified radiologist. This diagnostic tool can establish whether the patient has scarred lung tissue, which is often associated with asbestos exposure. Although asbestosis is not typically deadly, it can become progressive and may require the patient to depend on inhalers. Patients who have been diagnosed with asbestosis should undergo regular x-rays and lung function tests to track the development of the disease.