Malignant mesothelioma in the jewelry industry.
We conducted a clinical, environmental, pathologic, and mineral lung burden investigation of a 61-year-old man with malignant mesothelioma. For 35 years, up until three weeks prior to pneumonectomy, the patient made asbestos soldering forms at a costume jewelry production facility. Only chrysotile asbestos was used at the plant during the last decade of the patient's employment, and recent environmental sampling of the work-place identified no other asbestos fiber type. Anticipating that the patient would add to the very small number of cases of mesothelioma attributable solely to chrysotile, we found instead that the patient's lung tissue contained large numbers of both coated and uncoated amosite asbestos fibers but, surprisingly, no chrysotile. We subsequently learned that a distributor of both chrysotile and amosite supplied the company during the first 25 years the patient was fabricating soldering forms. The findings underscore the futility of estimating environmental exposure to chrysotile on the basis of fiber counts in lung tissue. Although we previously described non-neoplastic asbestos-related disease among patients engaged in similar work, this case, to the best of our knowledge, represents the first report of mesothelioma in the commercial jewelry industry. As such, it prompted us to initiate a public health campaign to replace asbestos soldering forms in this industry with readily available, safer alternatives.
Kern, DG; Hanley, KT; Roggli, VL
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