Background and Aims: Environmental exposures to chrysotile and tremolite from the soil cause pleural plaques and mesothelioma in northeast Corsica. Goats grazing in the contaminated areas inhale asbestos fibres. We used this natural animal model to study whether these exposures actually result in increased fibre burdens in the lungs and parietal pleura.
Methods: Ten goats from areas with asbestos outcrops and two from other areas were slaughtered. Fibre content of lung and parietal pleural samples was determined by analytical transmission electron microscopy.
Results: Both chrysotile and tremolite fibres were detected. In the exposed goats, the geometric mean concentrations of asbestos fibres longer than 1 μm were 0.27 × 106 fibres/g dry lung tissue and 1.8 × 106 fibres/g dry pleural tissue. Asbestos fibres were not detected in the lungs of the two control goats. Chrysotile fibres shorter than 5 μm were predominant in the parietal pleura. Tremolite fibres accounted for 78% and 86% of the fibres longer than 5 μm in lung and parietal pleural samples, respectively.
Conclusions: Environmental exposure in northeast Corsica results in detectable chrysotile and tremolite fibre loads in the lung and parietal pleura of adult goats. Tremolite fibres of dimensions with a high carcinogenic potency are detected in the parietal pleura.
- environmental exposure
- electron microscopy
- GM, geometric mean
- GSD, geometric standard deviation
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