Objective To report the high incidence of lung cancer (LC) and malignant mesothelioma (MM) linked to environmental exposure to erionite fibres in a rural village of central Mexico.
Methods This is a retrospective survey of clinical and mortality records from the years 2000–2012, accompanied by an environmental survey for nine Group-1 lung and pleura carcinogenic agents listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Results Out of a total of 45 deaths between 2000 and 2012, 14 deaths correspond to different neoplasms of the lung, and at least four deaths to MM. The ages at diagnosis of MM were between 30 and 54 years. Annual age-standardised mortality rates per thousand due to LC and MM in the village (age >20 years) are 7.09 and 2.48 for males, and 4.75 and 1.05 for females, respectively. Erionite fibres were found in exposed rocks and soils, which can easily become airborne and be carried into streets and recreational areas near schools and homes. Other carcinogenic elements and minerals are found only in trace amounts, except for quartz dust and asbestos (chrysotile) cement sheeting, which are also present in the neighbouring villages.
Conclusions These results indicate that environmental exposure to erionite is the main cause of the high rates of MM mortality in the Village of Tierra Blanca, supporting previous similar reports for people exposed to erionite fibres in villages in Turkey.
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