Asbestos-related conditions

What to do if you have been exposed to asbestos

If you think you have might have been exposed to asbestos in the past, it is important that your GP knows. However, it is not a reason to panic. 

Most people do not develop serious or life-threatening lung disease as a result of exposure to asbestos. 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
  • 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

DIY home improvements and asbestos 

If you are 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 their website.  If you live in Northern Ireland, visit the government's website for more information. 

Next: Benefits and compensation for asbestos-related lung disease >

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Download our asbestos-related conditions PDF (359KB)

Last medically reviewed: January 2018. Due for review: January 2021

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.