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Inhal Toxicol. 2010 May;22(6):500-21. doi: 10.3109/08958370903521224.

Refractory ceramic fiber (RCF) toxicity and epidemiology: a review.

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University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA.


This paper provides a review of the relevant literature on refractory ceramic fibers (RCFs), summarizing relevant data and information on the manufacture, processing, applications, potential occupational exposure, toxicology, epidemiology, risk analysis, and risk management. RCFs are amorphous fibers used for high-temperature insulation applications. RCFs are less durable/biopersistent than amphibole asbestos, but more durable/biopersistent than many other synthetic vitreous fibers (SVFs). Moreover, as produced/used, some RCFs are respirable. Toxicology studies with rodents using various exposure methods have shown that RCFs can cause fibrosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Interpretation of these animal studies is difficult for various reasons (e.g., overload in chronic inhalation bioassays). Epidemiological studies of occupationally exposed cohorts in Europe and the United States have demonstrated measurable effects (e.g., mild respiratory symptoms and pleural plaques) but no disease (i.e., no interstitial fibrosis, no excess lung cancer, and no mesothelioma) to date. The RCF industry, working cooperatively with various government agencies in the United States, has developed a comprehensive product stewardship program (PSP) to identify and control risks associated with occupational exposure. One provision of the PSP is the adoption of a voluntary recommended exposure guideline (REG) of 0.5 fibers/milliliter (f/ml). Selected on the basis of prudence and demonstrated feasibility, compliance with the REG should reduce risks to levels between 0.073/1000 and 1.2/1000, based on extrapolations from chronic animal inhalation studies.

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