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Non-occupational exposure to asbestos and risk of pleural mesothelioma: review and meta-analysis


Objective To conduct an updated literature review and meta-analysis of studies of pleural malignant mesothelioma (PMM) risk among persons exposed to asbestos non-occupationally (household and neighbourhood).

Methods We performed a literature search for articles available in the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s PubMed database published between 1967 and 2016. Meta-analyses were conducted to calculate pooled PMM risk estimates, stratifying for household or neighbourhood exposure to asbestos and/or predominant asbestos fibre type (chrysotile, amphibole or mixed).

Results Eighteen studies in 12 countries comprising 665 cases met the meta-analysis inclusion criteria. We identified 13 estimates of PMM risk from neighbourhood exposures, 10 from household and one from mixed exposure, and combined the estimates using random-effects models. The overall meta-relative risk (meta-RR) was 5.9 (95% CI 4.4 to 8.7). The meta-RRs for household and neighbourhood exposures were 5.4 (95% CI 2.6 to 11.2) and 6.9 (95% CI 4.2 to 11.4), respectively. We observed trends in risk in relation to fibre type for both household and neighbourhood studies. For chrysotile, mixed and amphibole fibres, respectively, meta-RRs for neighbourhood studies were 3.8 (95% CI 0.4 to 38.4), 8.4 (95% CI 4.7 to 14.9) and 21.1 (95% CI 5.3 to 84.5) and meta-RRs for household studies were 4.0 (95% CI 0.8 to 18.8), 5.3 (95% CI 1.9 to 15.0) and 21.1 (95% CI 2.8 to 156.0).

Conclusions PMM risks from non-occupational asbestos exposure are consistent with the fibre-type potency response observed in occupational settings. By relating our findings to knowledge of exposure-response relationships in occupational settings, we can better evaluate PMM risks in communities with ambient asbestos exposures from industrial or other sources.

  • asbestos
  • pleural mesothelioma
  • non-occupational exposures

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