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Are airborne refractory ceramic fibers similar to asbestos in their carcinogenicity?
Animal studies on refractory ceramic fiber (RCF) have led to the suggestion that RCF might resemble asbestos in carcinogenicity. Human data are available to test this hypothesis.
We compared the occurrence of lung cancer and mesothelioma in 605 men engaged in the manufacture of RCF and followed since 1987 to cancer rates that would have been anticipated if airborne RCF were carcinogenic to the same degree as are crocidolite, amosite or chrysotile asbestos. We integrated the results of workplace exposure monitoring with mortality follow-up using formulas presented by Hodgson and Darnton (2000) to estimate hypothesized risks under different asbestos scenarios.
During 15,281 person-years of observation, there were 12 deaths from lung cancer. General population rates predicted 11.8 cases expected for an observed/expected (O/E) ratio of 1.0. Anticipated numbers of deaths from lung cancer under hypotheses of carcinogenicity similar to that of amphiboles and chrysotile were 62 and 17, allowing for rejection of amphibole-like effects (p < 10(-5)) but not chrysotile-like carcinogenicity (p = 0.15). There were no cases of mesothelioma, as compared to 4.9 anticipated under a crocidolite-like hypothesis (p = 0.007 to reject), 1.0 for amosite (p = 0.38) and 0.05 for chrysotile (p = 0.95).
There was no increase in lung cancer or mesothelioma in these workers exposed to RCF. If the cohort had the same exposure to crocidolite asbestos the number of lung cancer and mesothelioma cases would have been significantly greater than observed. The data do not yet permit a similar conclusion with respect to chrysotile asbestos.
Aged, 80 and over
Air Pollutants, Occupational
Pub Type(s)Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't