Asbestos-related pleural disease


Pneumoconiosis (Pulmonary Fibrosis)




Pleural plaques; Diffuse pleural thickening; Pleural effusions; Rounded atelectasis;


Asbestos-related pleural disease can occur in the absence of interstitial fibrosis. Pleural abnormalities include: pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening, pleural effusions, and rounded atelectasis. Pleural plaques are the radiographic hallmarks of asbestos exposure. They are circumscribed areas of fibrous thickening of the parietal pleura, and they are usually bilateral. Pleural plaques may calcify, but they do not usually cause symptoms or restriction of lung function. They have a latency of at least 20 years. Pleural effusions are the only manifestations of asbestos exposure seen with a latency of less than 10 years. They tend to resolve spontaneously and may recur. Diffuse pleural thickening is thought to represent residual scarring from pleural effusions. Diffuse pleural thickening affects the visceral pleura, is less common than pleural plaques, rarely calcifies, and may cause a restrictive defect of pulmonary function and dyspnea on exertion. Rounded atelectasis is a peripheral atelectasis resulting from formation of scar tissue in pleura and adjacent lung. [ATSDR Case Studies, Asbestos Toxicity; Harber, p. 310-16]


10-30 years for pleural effusions; average of 30 years for pleural plaques; [Harber, p. 99, 312]


Chest x-ray; Computerized tomography;

ICD-9 Code


Reference Link

Clinical consequences of asbestos-related diffuse pleural thickening: A review.

Related Information in Haz-Map

Symptoms/Findings associated with this disease:

Job Tasks

High risk job tasks associated with this disease:


Hazardous agents that cause the occupational disease: