ABSTRACT Two groups of women were exposed to asbestos while manufacturing gas masks in Lancashire before and during the second world war. One group (in Blackburn) is believed to have been concerned almost exclusively with the manufacture of civilian respirators (containing chrysotile) while the other (in Leyland) made respirators for the armed Forces (containing crocidolite) and a much smaller number of civilian respirators. Excess mortality ascribed to lung cancer and ovarian cancer were found at the second factory (statistically significant at the 1% level) but not at the first. Mesothelioma was mentioned on the death certificates of five women who had worked in Leyland and one woman in Blackburn.
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