Background: There is controversy about the potential for dust from the talc mines and mills of New York State to cause mesothelioma. Honda et al. published a study of mortality among New York talc workers and concluded that it was unlikely that the two deaths from mesothelioma were caused by talc ore dust. However, fibers of tremolite and anthophyllite have been found in the lungs of talc workers and Hull concluded that "New York talc exposure is associated with mesothelioma, and deserves further public health attention."
Methods: Data concerning additional cases of mesothelioma in the cohort have been posted by NIOSH. I used information from the NIOSH website and the Honda report to analyze the incidence of mesothelioma during the years 1990-2007.
Results: There were at least five new cases of mesothelioma in the cohort and mesothelioma incidence rates were at least five (1.6-11.7) times the rate in the general population (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: I conclude that: (1) mesothelioma has been diagnosed among members of the cohort at a rate in excess of that in the general population; (2) fibers of tremolite and anthophyllite have been detected in dust and the lungs of talc workers; and (3) these fibers are known causes of mesothelioma. It is prudent, on the balance of probabilities, to conclude that dusts from New York State talc ores are capable of causing mesothelioma in exposed individuals.
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