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How does asbestos exposure happen?

Asbestos happens in two primary ways: inhalation and swallowing. This article will discuss how these two types of exposure generally happen. That way, Pennsylvania residents can avoid exposure and have a better chance of preventing asbestos-related diseases.

In the case of inhaling asbestos, this usually happens when asbestos fibers are inhaled through the air. This might happen during mining operations -- often when mining asbestos or other compounds. It can also happen during the processing of asbestos while manufacturing products that contain the substance. Inhalation of asbestos might also happen during the installation of asbestos-containing insulation. Another way that inhalation can occur is when an old building is demolished, renovated or when old materials inside a building start to break down, crumble and turn into toxic dust that goes airborne.

The other way to get exposed to asbestos is through swallowing. Sometimes, liquids and foods can become contaminated by asbestos. For example, if water moves through asbestos-contaminated piping or cement pipes, it could result in the swallowing of asbestos when the water is imbibed. The other way someone could swallow asbestos is if they cough asbestos from their lungs and swallow their saliva.

Unfortunately, there is no "safe" level of exposure to asbestos. The substance is dangerous and can cause fatal diseases. Pennsylvania residents who have contracted an asbestos-related disease may have the ability to seek workers' compensation benefits. These benefits could represent an important financial lifeline to ensure that a sick worker is able to pay for his or her medical bills and living costs while receiving treatment for his or her condition.

Source: American Cancer Society, "Asbestos and Cancer Risk," accessed April 08, 2016

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