Tremolite and mesothelioma.
BACKGROUND: Exposure to chrysotile dust has been associated with the development of mesothelioma and recent studies have implicated contaminating tremolite fibers as the likely etiological factor. Tremolite also contaminates talc, the most common non-asbestos mineral fiber in our control cases. METHODS: We examined 312 cases of mesothelioma for which fiber burden analyses of lung parenchyma had been performed by means of scanning electron microscopy to determine the content of tremolite, non-commercial amphiboles, talc and chrysotile. The vast majority of these patients were exposed to dust from products containing asbestos. RESULTS: Tremolite was identified in 166 of 312 cases (53%) and was increased above background levels in 81 cases (26%). Fibrous talc was identified in 193 cases (62%) and correlated strongly with the tremolite content (P < 0.0001). Chrysotile was identified in only 32 cases (10%), but still correlated strongly with the tremolite content (P < 0.0001). Talc levels explained less of the tremolite deviance for cases with an increased tremolite level than for cases with a normal range tremolite level (22 versus 42%). In 14 cases (4.5%) non-commercial amphibole fibers (tremolite, actinolite and/or anthophyllite) were the only fiber types found above background. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that tremolite in lung tissue samples from mesothelioma victims derives from both talc and chrysotile and that tremolite accounts for a considerable fraction of the excess fiber burden in end-users of asbestos products.
Roggli, VL; Vollmer, RT; Butnor, KJ; Sporn, TA
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