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Risk of Mesothelioma and Occupational Exposure to Asbestos and Man-Made Vitreous Fibers: Evidence From Two Case-Control Studies in Montreal, Canada

Pintos, Javier MD, PhD; Parent, Marie-Elise PhD; Case, Bruce W. MD, MSc; Rousseau, Marie-Claude PhD; Siemiatycki, Jack PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 10 - p 1177-1184
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181b68cef
Original Articles

Objective: To examine the effects of exposure to occupational asbestos and man-made vitreous fibers (MMVF) across a wide range of occupations on risk of mesothelioma.

Methodology: Two population-based case–control studies (1979–1986 and 1996–2001) provided 35 histologically confirmed mesothelioma cases and 1965 controls. A detailed job history was obtained to evaluate occupational exposure to many agents, including asbestos and MMVF.

Results: The mesothelioma odds ratio for exposure to any asbestos type was 3.7 (95% confidence interval = 1.7 to 7.8). The subset exposed to amphibole fibers experienced an odds ratio = 7.0 (95% confidence interval = 2.7 to 18.5). Effects of MMVF could not be disentangled from those of asbestos.

Discussion: In workers with exposure levels lower than in most historical cohort studies and across a wide range of industries, a strong association was found between asbestos, especially when it was amphibole, and mesothelioma.

From the INRS—Institut Armand-Frappier, Unit of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (Dr Pintos, Dr Parent, Dr Case, Dr Rousseau), Laval, Quebec; Research Center of the Hospital Center of the University of Montreal (Dr Pintos, Dr Siemiatycki); and Department of Pathology, McGill University (Dr Case), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Drs. Pintos, Parent, Rousseau, and Siemiatycki do not have a conflict of interest regarding the content of this manuscript. Dr Case has acted as an expert witness for law firms representing defendants and plaintiffs in asbestos litigation and compensation board proceedings, and has been a paid consultant to regulatory agencies and compensation boards in North America.

Address correspondence to: Javier Pintos, MD, PhD, INRS, Institut Armand-Frappier, Unit of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 531, boul. des Prairies, Laval, Québec H7V 1B7, Canada; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine