Two groups of 48 rats of the AF/HAN strain were exposed for one year to respirable dust clouds of UICC chrysotile asbestos at a dose level of 10 mg/m3. One group was treated with dust carrying the normal electrostatic charge produced during dust generation, whereas the other was exposed to dust discharged by exposure to ionising radiation from a thallium-204 source. After dusting most animals were retained for their full life span. At the end of the dusting period those animals treated with normally charged dust had significantly more chrysotile retained in their lungs than animals exposed to discharged dust. Subsequently, animals treated with normally charged dust developed more pulmonary fibrosis and more pulmonary tumours. These findings suggest that the charge carried by airborne fibres should be taken into account when considering the health risks from exposure to chrysotile. Highly charged fibres are more likely to be deposited in lung tissue and thus constitute a greater hazard.
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