Incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma due to environmental asbestos fiber exposure in the southeast of Turkey

Respiration. 2000;67(6):610-4. doi: 10.1159/000056289.


Background: Inhabitants of the southeast of Turkey (ST) have been exposed since childhood to inhalation of asbestos, from a material containing tremolite, used for whitewashing. This has resulted in an increased incidence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

Objectives: To review the epidemiological features of MPM cases in ST; to calculate and compare the incidence with the previously reported ones.

Subjects and methods: The study included 176 MPM cases from different places in ST. The incidence of MPM was calculated for those places according to the distribution of the cases.

Results: In the previously identified regions of asbestos (region 1) where the population had been informed of the danger with the soil some decades ago, the MPM incidence was decreased, as compared to the previous reports. The annual incidence of MPM in these places was found to be 42.9 per million in this study while it had been reported to be 105.5 per million in the previous studies. In contrast, the incidence that was reported previously to be 2.75 per million in the regions where asbestos exposure had not been identified before (region 2) was found to be 8.6 per million in this study. In region 2 the incidence of MPM increased even in the second half of the last decade (5.9 versus 11.9 per million).

Conclusions: Use of asbestos-containing soil continues in different places in ST. Even if the use of this soil is abandoned today, MPM will be an important health problem in this region till the third or fourth decades of this century. Informing the villagers of the danger and preventing the use of this soil may result in a considerable decrease in the incidence of MPM.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos / analysis
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects*
  • Carcinogens / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology*
  • Mesothelioma / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Pleural Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Radiography
  • Time Factors
  • Turkey / epidemiology


  • Carcinogens
  • Asbestos