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Ann Occup Hyg. 1995 Oct;39(5):715-25.

Airborne fibre concentrations and lung burden compared to the tumour response in rats and humans exposed to asbestos.

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Institute and Outpatient Clinic of Occupational and Social Medicine, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.


The excess risk of tumours exposed to asbestos were previously compared with the results of rat inhalation experiments. It could be demonstrated that humans at the workplace suffer from a tumour risk at fibre concentrations which are 300 times lower than those needed in the rat inhalation model to produce the same risk. However, the estimation of human risk was based on the study of workers at a chrysotile textile factory, whereas animal experimental results were related to exposure to amphiboles. Since for this comparison the risk of cancer due to exposure to amosite or crocidolite fibres at the workplace is of interest, quantitative exposure-response relationships for lung cancer and mesothelioma for the white workforce of South African amosite and crocidolite mines were discussed. On comparing the risk of lung cancer in this study with the risk of lung cancer for chrysotile textile workers, it can be concluded, that the risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma from crocidolite and amosite was higher than in the chrysotile textile factory. It could be also demonstrated, on the basis of a study of the lung burden of mesothelioma cases and of controls, that a significantly increased odds ratio of about 5 was established at amphibole concentrations of between 0.1 and 0.2 f micrograms-1 dry lung (WHO fibres longer than 5 microns from TEM analysis). On the other hand, carcinogenic response was observed at a fibre concentration 6000 times higher in animal inhalation experiments with crocidolite asbestos (SEM analysis of WHO fibres). As a result of these findings, it has been concluded that inhalation studies in rats are not sufficiently sensitive for the detection of hazards and risks to humans exposed to man-made fibres.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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