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Occupational exposure to asbestos as evaluated from work histories and analysis of lung tissues from patients with mesothelioma.
  1. T Tuomi,
  2. M S Huuskonen,
  3. L Tammilehto,
  4. E Vanhala,
  5. M Virtamo
  1. Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.


    The past occupational exposure to asbestos of 23 patients with mesothelioma (21 men and two women) has been evaluated by a personal interview of their work history and by determination of the fibre burden in their lung tissue with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and x ray microanalysis. According to the work history, nine patients (39%) had definitely been or probably been exposed to asbestos, six patients (26%) had had possible exposures, and eight patients (35%) unlikely or unknown exposure to asbestos. The two female patients were in the unknown exposure category. The fibre concentrations in the patients' lung tissue ranged from less than 0.1 million to 370 million fibres (f) per g dry tissue. Concentrations of over one million f per g dry tissue were found in 15 patients (65%). The lung fibre concentrations of all nine male office workers analysed for reference were less than one million f per g dry tissue. Seventy eight per cent of the patients with mesothelioma had at least possible exposure according to their history of work or concentrations of more than one million f per g dry tissue.

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