What should you do if you’re exposed to asbestos in your home?

While asbestos was banned in the UK in 2000, any homes built in 1999 or earlier are likely to have asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) in them.

Asbestos exposure can lead to serious, life-threatening diseases as far as 10 to 40 years in the future. These diseases are difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, and they can cause major discomfort that often leads to death.

To prevent asbestos exposure and resulting diseases, it’s necessary to take the proper precautions now so that nobody in your home inhales dangerous, toxic asbestos fibres that can impact their health in the future.

What should you do if you’re exposed to asbestos in your home?

What is asbestos? Where is it found in homes?

Asbestos is a natural, fibrous mineral of which there are six different types. Each kind of asbestos is made up of long, thin crystals that are composed of microscopic fibres. While some types of asbestos are more dangerous than others, there’s no such thing as safe asbestos or a safe asbestos exposure incident.

When asbestos is disturbed or damaged — for example, if you drill into asbestos sheeting or an ACM wears down over time and breaks apart — it can release fibres into the air without you knowing they’re present. Since asbestos fibres are too small to be seen and don’t have a taste or smell, they’re undetectable.

When inhaled or swallowed, asbestos fibres can adhere to the lungs. They can go undetected indefinitely, and even if you know that you’ve been exposed to asbestos fibres, they can’t always be removed from the lungs.

Over time, asbestos fibres can lead to respiratory problems and various cancers that require aggressive treatments.

Why was asbestos so popular in building materials?

Asbestos has powerful fire-resistance and insulation properties, which made it an ideal addition to building materials before its negative health effects were understood. It was also inexpensive and readily available, causing it to become a go-to material in the construction industry and other industries.

Common locations where asbestos can be found in the home include:

  • Beams and columns
  • Boilers
  • Brickwork
  • Ceilings and ceiling voids
  • Cupboard lining
  • Doors and windows
  • Electrical installations
  • Flooring and floor voids
  • Gutters
  • Insulation
  • Piping
  • Radiators
  • Roofing
  • Stairs
  • Toilets
  • Venting

Since it wasn’t always known to be harmful, asbestos can be found practically anywhere in your home or outdoors on your property. It can be difficult to identify asbestos, too, as there are so many different kinds of ACMs.

Fascias and Soffits

What should you do if you’re exposed to asbestos in your home?

If you know there are damaged ACMs present in your home or you suspect you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s imperative that you take the necessary steps to halt exposure in its tracks and keep everyone safe.

Once you become aware of an asbestos issue in your home, your top two priorities should be minimising health risks and addressing the exposure situation to prevent more dangerous events.

Here are the steps to take if you’re exposed to asbestos in your home.

Step 1: Assess the situation

In its complete, undisturbed state, asbestos doesn’t pose a health risk. However, once an ACM is disturbed or damaged in some way, it can release asbestos fibres into the air.

Assess the asbestos exposure situation to determine if it’s ongoing or not. For example, if you drill into an ACM, realise your mistake, and then quickly seal up the drilled hole to keep fibres contained, you may not have an emergency on your hands.

On the other hand, if you have an ACM that’s falling apart in a high-traffic area of your home, anyone in the area can inhale fibres, as well as spread them around the rest of the house.

Having a clear picture of exactly what you’re dealing with and the exposure risk involved will guide the rest of your plan to maintain a safe environment.

Step 2: Limit further exposure

Assuming the exposure needs to be addressed and isn’t able to be fixed easily and quickly, the affected area should be evacuated right away. Prevent anyone from accessing the area, including yourself, until the asbestos has been properly dealt with.

While you may assume it’s best to clean up the material, doing so could damage it more and put you at a greater risk. There are also safety precautions to follow when disposing of asbestos waste, and if they’re not followed perfectly, you could spread the fibres without knowing it.

Instead, close off the area as best as possible without interacting with the ACM and make sure nobody goes into the area until further notice.

Step 3: Seek medical advice

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or consider contacting a medical professional with expertise in asbestos exposure. Your doctor may recommend that you get specialty health screenings or undergo regular monitoring to manage the asbestos exposure effects as best as possible.

Step 4: Contact asbestos professionals

Unless you have experience working with asbestos and the right tools for the job, it’s safest to let an asbestos professional or team handle the project. Get in touch with an asbestos management company, particularly one that’s accredited by the UKAS.

Asbestos experts will be able to visit your home, assess the situation, and suggest a course of action. If needed, they’ll seal off or remove the damaged asbestos and then test the area to ensure the air is safe to breathe in.

Our article about choosing the right asbestos management company goes over everything you need to consider when hiring an expert.

Step 5: Document the exposure

Keep detailed records of the exposure incident. Your records should include the following information:

  • Date of exposure
  • Exposure duration (estimate)
  • Location of exposure
  • Type and state of ACM
  • Actions taken

You’ll need this when you visit your doctor and when you explain the situation to an asbestos team. You may also need these records for insurance purposes if your homeowner’s insurance company provides coverage for your situation.

Step 6: Communicate with affected individuals

Don’t keep the asbestos exposure event or removal project a secret. Anybody who could be impacted by airborne asbestos fibres must know about the situation so they can protect their health.

Your household members should be aware of what’s occurring, which areas of the home to avoid, and how to keep themselves safe. If you have contractors or workers in your home, like a personal assistant or babysitter, let them know details about your home’s asbestos, too.

Depending on the type of removal work that’s being planned, you may also need to speak with your neighbours. If the project could impact them in any way, they need to know about it so they can take precautions.

Your asbestos management company will help you determine who will be impacted and how to ensure everyone’s safety.

Step 7: Review and implement preventive measures

Once the asbestos has been safely removed and the work area has been deemed ready for reoccupation, it’s important to review ongoing home safety practices to prevent a problem in the future.

  • Learn where ACMs are located in your home. You can have your asbestos management company conduct an inspection to determine where asbestos is located.
  • Avoid damaging or disturbing ACMs in any way. Even putting a nail in an asbestos-containing wall can release asbestos fibres.
  • Regularly inspect older materials in the home for signs of damage. If you find damaged ACMs, follow the steps above to stay safe.

Asbestos management isn’t a one-time job. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself and your household safe. Preventative measures act as a safeguard against accidental asbestos exposure.

Step 8: Insurance considerations

It pays to find out if asbestos removal is covered in your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Typically, homeowner’s insurance does not cover pollutants, including asbestos. However, if ACMs are disturbed due to an event like vandalism or a tree that falls and damages your home, it may be covered by your policy.

For clarity on what is and is not covered, contact your insurance company and explain the situation in detail to them. They’ll be able to let you know if you have coverage for a removal project or not.


Asbestos is an extremely dangerous carcinogen, and it’s very common in homes that were constructed prior to 2000.

If you’re exposed to asbestos in your home, taking the necessary steps can prevent more exposure events from happening:

  • Assess the situation
  • Block exposure to the area
  • Contact your doctor
  • Hire an asbestos management company
  • Document the exposure incident
  • Communicate with anyone impacted
  • Regularly monitor your home’s ACMs
  • Find out if insurance covers the removal project

When it comes to asbestos in your home, you should always be thinking about safety first. Instead of trying to deal with the situation on your own, go the safest route and hire an asbestos management company. To keep yourself and your loved ones safe, any asbestos-related issue should be handled by a professional.

Contact Oracle Solutions today if you’ve been exposed to asbestos in your home.

Mark Carter

Written by Mark Carter

Mark Carter is a renowned expert in asbestos management, offering clients vital guidance on compliance and safety. His expertise is invaluable for navigating asbestos regulations, ensuring both safety and legal adherence. Mark's role is central in providing effective asbestos-related solutions, helping clients achieve their business objectives with an emphasis on regulatory compliance and safety in asbestos management.