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Asbestos-related conditions

What to do if you think you have been exposed to asbestos

On this page we explain what you should do if you’ve been exposed to asbestos.

When should I see my GP?

If you think you have might have been exposed to asbestos in the past and have symptoms of an asbestos-related condition, it’s important your GP knows. However, it is not a reason to worry. Most people do not develop serious or life-threatening lung disease as a result of exposure to asbestos. However, you should always seek medical advice if you have symptoms like coughing, feeling short of breath or chest pain.

Talk to your GP about:

  • any past or present jobs with an asbestos risk
  • living with someone who has worked in a job with an asbestos risk (you may have inhaled asbestos fibres that they brought back home)
  • DIY or other situations where you might have been exposed to asbestos
  • ensuring your exposure to asbestos is documented in your medical records
  • your symptoms and how to relieve them
  • tests you might need
  • whether you should see a specialist.

What to do if you think you’ve found asbestos in your home

If you’re doing DIY work on your home and think you have found asbestos, you should seek advice from an environmental health officer at your local council. They will be able to tell you who to contact to remove the asbestos or what steps you need to take to protect yourself.

  • If you live in England or Wales, you can find out more about asbestos removal on the website
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, you can read about asbestos removal on the NI direct website
  • If you live in Scotland, you can get advice on asbestos in the home from Scotland Shelter

I think I’ve inhaled asbestos – what should I do?

If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s understandable to be concerned about the effects it might have on your health. But in most cases, the risk to your health from short term exposure to asbestos is very low.

Developing an asbestos-related condition is much more likely to happen if you have breathed in a considerable amount of asbestos fibres over a prolonged time.

But if you’re concerned, you should ask your GP to make a note in your personal record about possible exposure, including dates, duration, and if you know them, the type of asbestos and likely exposure levels. If you have asbestos-related symptoms, they might request a chest X-ray.

Read next: benefits and compensation

Download our asbestos information (PDF, 135KB)

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