Asbestos-related disease associated with exposure to asbestiform tremolite.
Tremolite is nearly ubiquitous and represents the most common amphibole fiber in the lungs of urbanites. Tremolite asbestos is not mined or used commercially but is a frequent contaminant of chrysotile asbestos, vermiculite, and talc. Therefore, individuals exposed to these materials or to end-products containing these materials may be exposed to tremolite. We have had the opportunity to do asbestos body counts and mineral fiber analysis on pulmonary tissue from five mesothelioma cases and two asbestosis cases with pulmonary tremolite burdens greater than background levels. There were no uncoated amosite or crocidolite fibers detected in any of these cases. Three patients were occupationally exposed to chrysotile asbestos; two patients had environmental exposures (one to vermiculite and one to chrysotile and talc) and one was a household contact of a shipyard worker. The tremolite burdens for the asbestosis cases were one to two orders of magnitude greater than those for the mesothelioma cases. Our study confirms the relationship between tremolite exposure and the development of asbestos-associated diseases. Furthermore, the finding of relatively modest elevations of tremolite content in some of our mesothelioma cases suggests that, at least for some susceptible individuals, moderate exposures to tremolite-contaminated dust can produce malignant pleural mesothelioma.
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