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Cancer mortality in a population exposed to nephrite processing
  1. Hsiao-Yu Yang1,2,
  2. Sheng-Hsiu Huang3,
  3. Ruei-Hao Shie4,
  4. Pau-Chung Chen1,2,5
  1. 1Department of Public Health and Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Taipei, Taiwan
  2. 2Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  3. 3Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, National Taiwan University College of Public Health, Taipei, Taiwan
  4. 4Green Energy & Environmental Research Laboratories, Industrial Technology Research Institute, Hsinchu, Taiwan
  5. 5Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hsiao-Yu Yang, Department of Public Health and Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene National Taiwan University College of Public Health, No. 17 Xuzhou Road, Taipei 10055, Taiwan; hyang{at}ntu.edu.tw

Abstract

Objectives Although asbestos has been recognised as a strong carcinogen, many asbestos minerals exist in concrete masses, and the health risks of these materials remain inconclusive. Nephrite jade is a concrete mass of amphibole that consists of asbestiform and non-asbestiform particles. The objective of the study was to explore the carcinogenetic effect of nephrite.

Methods We examined cancer mortality between 1979 and 2011 in Fengtian, where nephrite was mass produced from 1970 to 1980, and calculated standardised mortality ratios (SMRs).

Results We observed significantly elevated mortality risks for cancer of the hypopharynx (SMR 2.31; 95% CI 1.37 to 3.65), larynx (SMR 2.51; 95% CI 1.55 to 3.83), oesophagus (SMR 2.04; 95% CI 1.62 to 2.54) and stomach (SMR 1.38; 95% CI 1.17 to 1.63). This study analysed the lengths, widths, structures, chemical compositions, aerodynamic diameters and distributions of elongated mineral particles (EMPs) in airways. The majority of the EMPs (68%) were short (<5 μm) and thin (<0.5 µm), and possessed asbestiform structures. The median aerodynamic diameter of the EMPs was 1.2 μm. The total deposition proportion in airways was 51.3%. The major deposition sites were the head airway (37.5%), followed by the alveolar region (10.6%) and the tracheobronchial region (3.2%).

Conclusions The results have shown an association between EMPs and increased risk of respiratory and digestive cancers. Further research is needed that includes information on smoking habits and exposure to asbestos.

  • asbestiform
  • non-asbestiform
  • tremolite
  • nephrite

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