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Am J Ind Med. 2000 Apr;37(4):327-33.

Pulmonary mineral fibers after occupational and environmental exposure to asbestos in the Russian chrysotile industry.

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Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.



As an indicator of occupational, domestic, and environmental exposure, the level and type of asbestos fibers were determined from lung tissue samples of workers and residents who resided in the area of the world's largest asbestos mine at Asbest, Russia.


Electron microscopy was used to analyze and measure the concentration of asbestos fibers in a series of 47 autopsies at the Asbest Town Hospital. Work histories were obtained from pathology reports and employment records.


In 24 chrysotile miners, millers, and product manufacturers, the pulmonary concentrations of retained fibers (over 1 microm in length) were 0. 8-50.6 million f/g for chrysotile, and < 0.1-1.9 million f/g for amphiboles (tremolite and anthophyllite). The concentrations were lower in 23 persons without any known occupational contact with asbestos; 0.1-14.6 million f/g for chrysotile, and < 0.1-0.7 million f/g for amphiboles. On average, 90% of all inorganic fibers were chrysotile, and 5% tremolite/anthophyllite. No amosite or crocidolite fibers were detected in any of the samples.


The mean and range of pulmonary chrysotile concentrations were about the same as reported previously from the Canadian mining and milling industry. In the Russian samples, the mean concentration of tremolite fibers were less by at least one order of magnitude. Occupational contact was the most important source of asbestos exposure.

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