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Chrysotile and tremolite asbestos fibres in the lungs and parietal pleura of Corsican goats
  1. P Dumortier1,
  2. F Rey2,
  3. J R Viallat3,
  4. I Broucke1,
  5. C Boutin2,
  6. P De Vuyst1
  1. 1Chest Department, CUB Hôpital Erasme, 808 Route de Lennik, B1070 Brussels, Belgium
  2. 2Chest Department, Hôpital de la Conception, 147 Bd Baille, F13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France
  3. 3Pulmonology Unit, Institut Paoli-Calmettes, 232 Bd Ste-Marguerite, F13009 Marseille, France
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr P Dumortier, Chest Department, CUB Hôpital Erasme, Route de Lennik 808, B1070 Brussels, Belgium;


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.

  • asbestos
  • environmental exposure
  • electron microscopy
  • GM, geometric mean
  • GSD, geometric standard deviation

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