Historical cohort study of US man-made vitreous fiber production workers: II. Mortality from mesothelioma

J Occup Environ Med. 2001 Sep;43(9):757-66. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200109000-00005.


As part of our ongoing mortality surveillance program for the US man-made vitreous fiber (MMVF) industry, we examined mortality from malignant mesothelioma using data from our 1989 follow-up of 3478 rock/slag wool workers and our 1992 follow-up of 32,110 fiberglass workers. A manual search of death certificates for 1011 rock/slag wool workers and 9060 fiberglass workers revealed only 10 death certificates with any mention of the word "mesothelioma." A subsequent review of medical records and pathology specimens for 3 of the 10 workers deemed two deaths as definitely not due to mesothelioma and one as having a 50% chance of being caused by mesothelioma. Two other deaths, for which only medical records were available, were given less than a 50% chance of being due to mesothelioma. Eight of the 10 decedents had potential occupational asbestos exposure inside or outside the MMVF industry. We also estimated the mortality risk from malignant mesothelioma in the cohort using two cause-of-death categorizations that included both malignant and benign coding rubrics. Using the more comprehensive scheme, we observed overall deficits in deaths among the total cohort and fiberglass workers and an overall excess among rock/slag wool workers. The excess in respiratory system cancer is largely a reflection of elevated lung cancer risks that we attributed mainly to confounding by smoking, to exposures outside the MMVF industry to agents such as asbestos, or to one or more of the several co-exposures present in many of the study plants (including asbestos). The second scheme, which focused on pleural mesothelioma in time periods when specific malignant mesothelioma coding rubrics were available, classified only one cohort death as being caused by malignant mesothelioma, compared with 2.19 expected deaths (local county comparison). We conclude that the overall mortality risk from malignant mesothelioma does not seem to be elevated in the US MMVF cohort.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glass*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced*
  • Mesothelioma / mortality*
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Analysis
  • Textiles / adverse effects
  • United States / epidemiology


  • fiberglass