Mapping the risk of mesothelioma due to neighborhood asbestos exposure

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Sep 15;178(6):624-9. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200801-063OC. Epub 2008 Jun 12.


Rationale: Little is known about neighborhood exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma risk among residents around an industrial source of asbestos.

Objectives: To investigate the magnitude of the risk among residents by asbestos exposure levels and to determine the range of the area affected by asbestos.

Methods: We calculated standardized mortality ratios of mesothelioma from 1995 to 2006 among the estimated population at risk that lived around a former large asbestos cement pipe plant in Amagasaki City, Japan, between 1957 and 1975, the time when the plant had used crocidolite and chrysotile. The distance between the plant and homes and relative asbestos concentrations obtained by diffusion equations involving meteorological conditions were used to determine asbestos exposure levels among residents.

Measurements and main results: We identified 73 mesothelioma deaths of 35 men and 38 women who had no occupational exposure to asbestos. Among persons who had lived within a 300-m radius of the plant, the standardized mortality ratio of mesothelioma was 13.9 (95% confidence interval, 5.6-28.7) for men and 41.1 (95% confidence interval, 15.2-90.1) for women. When the study area was divided into five regions by relative asbestos concentration, standardized mortality ratios of mesothelioma declined, for both sexes, in a linear dose-dependent manner with concentration. The regions with a significantly elevated standardized mortality ratio reached 2,200 m from the plant in the same direction in which the wind predominantly blew.

Conclusions: Neighborhood exposure to asbestos can pose a serious risk to residents across a wide area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Asbestosis / epidemiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / epidemiology*
  • Mesothelioma / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / mortality
  • Risk Assessment


  • Air Pollutants
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite