Anthophyllite Asbestos: The Role of Fiber Width in Mesothelioma Induction Part 2: Further Epidemiological Studies of Occupational, Domestic and Environmental Exposure to Finnish Anthophyllite Asbestos

  •  Edward B. Ilgren    
  •  John A. Hoskins    


Although people in all sectors of the Finnish anthophyllite industry, including their families, have been heavily exposed to anthophyllite there is no evidence for even a single proven case of attributable mesothelioma. A few cases have been claimed but the evidence either, that they were mesotheliomas or that amphibole exposure was solely to anthophyllite is, in every case examined, insufficient. Even among the population who lived in Karelia in Central Finland who were exposed domestically or enviromentally to anthophyllite released during agricultural and various domestic activities and during transport from the mines, Finnish epidemiology found no risk of mesothelioma. There is also an absence of mesotheliomas reported in the earlier Finnish literature. This anomaly compared to the effects of exposure to other amphiboles is strong support for the role of fiber width in mesothelioma production. Anthophyllite, though, is not without clinical effect. As screening techniques improved it was discovered that of every person over the age of 65 years, one third living in Karelia had bilateral pleural plaques. The area was henceforth called the Endemic Pleural Plaque (EPP) zone. Radiographic analysis of the residents living in the district of Kuusjarvi led to suggestions that the cases resulted from asbestos blown from the Paakila facility via fiber drift as far away as 30 km. Later studies showed that ‘fiber drift’ was very unlikely to be a factor in the radiological findings thus observed. 

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