A rapid method has been developed for measuring the binding capacity of asbestos and other mineral fibres for environmental carcinogens. Benzo(alpha)pyrene (B(alpha)P), nitrosonornicotine (NNN), and N-acetyl-2-aminofluorene (NAAF) were assayed in the presence of Canadian grade 4T30 chrysotile, chrysotile A, amosite, crocidolite, glass microfibres, glasswool, attapulgite, and titanium dioxide. Chrysotile binds significantly more carcinogens than the other mineral fibres. This binding assay is reproducible with coefficients of variation of less than 8% and 6% respectively for inter and intra assay. The influence of pH was also studied, and there is good correlation between the carcinogen binding and the charge of the tested mineral fibres. The in vitro cytotoxicity on macrophage like cell line P388D1 and the haemolytic activity of various mineral fibres were also measured; a good correlation was found between the binding capacity and the cytotoxicity of tested mineral fibres on P388D1 cells. These results give some explanations for the reported synergism between exposure to asbestos and the smoking habits of workers.
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