Residential proximity to naturally occurring asbestos and mesothelioma risk in California

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Oct 15;172(8):1019-25. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200412-1731OC. Epub 2005 Jun 23.


Rationale: Little is known about environmental exposure to low levels of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA) and malignant mesothelioma (MM) risk.

Objectives: To conduct a cancer registry-based case control study of residential proximity to NOA with MM in California.

Methods: Incident MM cases (n = 2,908) aged 35 yr or more, diagnosed between 1988 and 1997, were selected from the California Cancer Registry and frequency matched to control subjects with pancreatic cancer (n = 2,908) by 5-yr age group and sex. Control subjects were selected by stratified random sampling from 28,123 incident pancreatic cancers in the same time period. We located 93.7% of subjects at the house or street level at initial diagnosis. Individual occupational exposure to asbestos was derived from the longest held occupation, available for 74% of MM cases and 63% of pancreatic cancers. Occupational exposure to asbestos was determined by a priori classification and confirmed by association with mesothelioma.

Main results: The adjusted odds ratios and 95% confidence interval for low, medium, and high probabilities of occupational exposures to asbestos were 1.71 (1.32-2.21), 2.51 (1.91-3.30), and 14.94 (8.37-26.67), respectively. Logistic regression analysis from a subset of 1,133 mesothelioma cases and 890 control subjects with pancreatic cancer showed that the odds of mesothelioma decreased approximately 6.3% for every 10 km farther from the nearest asbestos source, an odds ratio of 0.937 (95% confidence interval = 0.895-0.982), adjusted for age, sex, and occupational exposure to asbestos.

Conclusions: These data support the hypothesis that residential proximity to NOA is significantly associated with increased risk of MM in California.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Carcinogens*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Female
  • Geography
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology
  • Mesothelioma / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pleural Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Registries
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution


  • Carcinogens
  • Asbestos