Malignant mesothelioma and duration of asbestos exposure: correlation with tissue mineral fibre content.
Among 441 cases of malignant mesothelioma in the author's files, there were 324 for whom reliable information was available regarding the duration of exposure to asbestos. Included were 298 pleural and 26 peritoneal mesotheliomas. The mean duration of exposure to asbestos was 23 +/- 14 years for all cases, and was not different for the pleural and peritoneal groups. Lung tissue was available for analysis of mineral fibre content in 94 cases. Linear regression analysis showed a significant correlation between duration of exposure and asbestos bodies per gramme of wet lung as determined by light microscopy, and between duration of exposure and total uncoated fibres (5 microns or greater in length) as well as commercial amphibole fibres per gramme as determined by scanning electron microscopy (P < 0.05). Individuals with direct exposures had on average higher asbestos contents than patients with indirect exposures. Furthermore, for each duration of exposure, shipyard workers had on average higher asbestos contents than non-shipyard workers (P < 0.05). Mesotheliomas are associated with a wide range of durations of exposure to asbestos and pulmonary asbestos burdens, and there is a rough correlation between duration of exposure and pulmonary commercial amphibole content.
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