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Mortality study of asbestos cement workers.

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  • 1Istituto Superiore di SanitĂ , Rome, Italy.


The present study describes cause-specific mortality of asbestos cement workers in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The cohort included workers in ten factories, most of which started operating between 1955 and 1965. Asbestos, mainly chrysotile, constituted 10%-20% of the dry component of the mixture. Crocidolite range between 5% and 50% of total asbestos. Asbestos concentrations up to 44 ff/cc were reported prior to 1975, while in recent years they have usually been below 0-1 ff/cc. The cohort included 3341 workers who had at some time been employed in the ten factories under study. Their mortality experience was compared with that of the population resident in Emilia Romagna. Vital status was ascertained at 1989. Seventy-three subjects were lost to follow-up (2.2%). Mortality from all causes and from all types of cancer was increased in the cohort. Malignant neoplasms of the respiratory tract showed a significant increase (SMR: 134; 90% confidence interval: 101-175; 40 observed) due to lung cancer (SMR: 124; 90% confidence interval: 91-166; 33 observed) and neoplasms of the pleura, mediastinum, and other parts of the respiratory tract (SMR: 602; 90% confidence interval 237-1267; 5 observed). The discrepancy between observed and expected mortality mainly concerned subjects with at least 20 years of employment in the factories. Five more cases of histologically confirmed mesothelioma occurred after the end of follow-up.

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