Objectives Occupational asbestos exposure is causally linked to mesothelioma. However, whether exposure to only chrysotile asbestos is associated with mesothelioma risk, and the heterogeneity in risk by different fibre types/lengths remains unclear. We investigated whether mesothelioma risk differs among workers exposed to only chrysotile asbestos compared with chrysotile and ≥1 amphibole (ie, amosite, tremolite, anthophyllite and crocidolite) over the working lifetime.
Methods We analysed next-of-kin interview data including occupational histories for 580 white men (176 cases and 404 controls) from a case–control study of mesothelioma conducted in the USA in 1975–1980. Asbestos exposure was determined by an occupational hygienist using a job-exposure matrix and exposure categories included chrysotile only and nine chrysotile–amphibole mixtures. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the ORs and 95% CIs of mesothelioma, comparing each asbestos category to the unexposed group, adjusted for age at death and data source. Analysis of contrasts was used to assess overall heterogeneity and pair-wise differences in risk.
Results Exposure to long and short chrysotile only was associated with increased mesothelioma risk compared with the unexposed (OR=3.8 (95% CI 1.3 to 11.2)). The complex mixture of extra-long amosite, short and long chrysotile, tremolite and anthophyllite was associated with the highest risk (OR=12.8 (95% CI 4.1 to 40.2)). There was evidence for overall heterogeneity among the asbestos exposure categories (p heterogeneity=0.02). However, the lower risk observed for exposure to chrysotile only compared with the complex mixture was not significant (p difference=0.10).
Conclusions Our findings suggest that policies aimed at regulating asbestos should target both pure chrysotile and mixtures that include amphibole.
- hygiene / occupational hygiene
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Contributors JW: conceptualisation/design, data analyses and manuscript preparation. CR: conceptualisation/design, exposure assessment, data analyses and manuscript preparation. AB and DTS: conceptualisation/design and manuscript preparation.
Funding This work was supported by intramural funding from the National Cancer Institute.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement No data are available.