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Br J Cancer. 2000 Jul;83(1):104-11.

Multicentric study on malignant pleural mesothelioma and non-occupational exposure to asbestos.

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Cancer Epidemiology Unit, S Giovanni B Hospital and Regional Centre for Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, Torino, Italy.


Insufficient evidence exists on the risk of pleural mesothelioma from non-occupational exposure to asbestos. A population-based case-control study was carried out in six areas from Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Information was collected for 215 new histologically confirmed cases and 448 controls. A panel of industrial hygienists assessed asbestos exposure separately for occupational, domestic and environmental sources. Classification of domestic and environmental exposure was based on a complete residential history, presence and use of asbestos at home, asbestos industrial activities in the surrounding area, and their distance from the dwelling. In 53 cases and 232 controls without evidence of occupational exposure to asbestos, moderate or high probability of domestic exposure was associated with an increased risk adjusted by age and sex: odds ratio (OR) 4.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.8-13.1. This corresponds to three situations: cleaning asbestos-contaminated clothes, handling asbestos material and presence of asbestos material susceptible to damage. The estimated OR for high probability of environmental exposure (living within 2000 m of asbestos mines, asbestos cement plants, asbestos textiles, shipyards, or brakes factories) was 11.5 (95% CI 3.5-38.2). Living between 2000 and 5000 m from asbestos industries or within 500 m of industries using asbestos could also be associated with an increased risk. A dose-response pattern appeared with intensity of both sources of exposure. It is suggested that low-dose exposure to asbestos at home or in the general environment carries a measurable risk of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

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