Background: Occupational exposure to asbestos, widely used in various industries for decades, is the most important risk factor for pleural mesothelioma. We report here the ranking of occupations and industries in France at high risk for this cancer among men and women.
Methods: A population-based case-control study, conducted from 1998 to 2002, included 462 cases (80.3% men) and 897 controls. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews with a standardized questionnaire. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for each occupation and industry; subjects never employed in each category were the reference.
Results: For men, risks were high for several occupations and industries. Besides the expected high risks for non-metallic mineral product makers and manufacturing asbestos products, occupations such as plumbers (OR = 5.57, 95% CI: 2.90-10.69), sheet-metal workers, welders, metal molders, coremakers, and cabinetmakers were also at high risk. Elevated risks were found in the industries of shipbuilding (OR = 9.13, 95% CI: 5.20-16.06) and construction, but also in the manufacturing of metal products, chemicals, and railroad and aircraft equipment. The results for women showed increased but not significant risks in several occupational activities.
Conclusions: This report provides new insight into the epidemiology of mesothelioma, confirming risks for occupational activities reported earlier and pointing out risks in activities never previously reported. It offers guidance to authorities for the compensation of asbestos victims and for prevention in at-risk activities still involving asbestos-containing products.