Common symptoms of asbestos poisoning

Last Updated on October 1, 2020 by

What causes asbestos poisoning?

Asbestos poisoning is caused by a person being exposed to asbestos and the harmful asbestos fibers being inhaled and embedded in the lungs.

These tiny asbestos fibers can remain in a persons lungs for a long period of time and cause inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue.

Many people will have been exposed to asbestos over the years as it was such a common building material up until the asbestos ban in the UK in 1999.

It is still present in old buildings and warehouses today, meaning people are still at risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos was also commonly used in the manufacture of textiles, car parts (mainly brake linings and gaskets), Christmas decorations, insulation and building materials, so people working in factories making these products will most likely have been exposed to asbestos.

Unfortunately, the effects of asbestos poisoning will normally only materialise many years after the asbestos exposure.

What are the symptoms of asbestos poisoning?

Tell tale symptoms of asbestos poisoning will usually include shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, swollen fingertips and a persistent dry cough.

Asbestos poisoning symptoms will usually indicate serious health conditions such as asbestos related diseases asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Let’s look at the symptoms of asbestos poisoning in more detail:-

Shortness of breath

Scar tissue in the lungs can develop if you’ve inhaled asbestos fibers. This results in making it difficult to breathe. Shortness of breath is usually an early warning sign of asbestos poisoning and an asbestos related disease.


If you notice a whistling or rattling sound when you take a deep breath, then this could be a sign of inflammation in the lungs.

If you’re a non smoker, then wheezing could indicate that you’ve been exposed to asbestos.


If you feel tired a lot of the time then it could be a sign of an asbestos related disease, particularly if you are experiencing any other symptoms like shortness of breath and swollen fingertips.

Fatigue caused by asbestos poisoning
Fatigue can be a sign of asbestos poisoning together with other common symptoms

Swollen Fingertips

Swollen fingertips affect around 50% of people with asbestosis. Fingertips will usually appear broader and rounder.

Persistent Dry Cough

A persistent cough can develop many years after initial asbestos exposure. This is due to scar tissue forming in the lungs over a long period of time. It could take up to 40 years or more for a persistent cough to develop.

Persistent dry cough asbestos
A persistent dry cough can be a sign of an asbestos related disease

Who is most at risk of asbestos poisoning?

Those workers most at risk of developing an asbestos related illness are those who have worked in shipyards, those working with aircraft and automobiles, miners, builders, electricians and railroad workers.

However, as asbestos is present in many older buildings constructed before the 1980’s such as warehouses, office buildings, public and even residential buildings, anyone could potentially be at risk of asbestos exposure.

Did you find this article interesting?  Then check out our other interesting articles below.

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Published May 20, 2019

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