Short, fine and WHO asbestos fibers in the lungs of quebec workers with an asbestos-related disease

Am J Ind Med. 2013 Sep;56(9):1001-14. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22180. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Background: The possible role of short asbestos fibers in the development of asbestos-related diseases and availability of lung fiber burden data prompted this study on the relationships between fiber characteristics and asbestos-related diseases among compensated workers.

Methods: Data collected between 1988 and 2007 for compensation purposes were used; lung asbestos fibers content of 123 Quebec workers are described according to socio-demographic characteristics, job histories and diseases (asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer).

Results: Most workers (85%) presented chrysotile fibers in their lungs, and respectively 76%, 64%, and 43% had tremolite, amosite, and crocidolite. Half of the total fibers were short, 30% were thin fibers and 20% corresponded to the World Health Organization definition of fibers (length ≥ 5 μm, diameter ≥ 0.2 and <3 μm). Chrysotile fibers were still observed in the lungs of workers 30 years or more after last exposure.

Conclusion: Our findings stress the relevance of considering several dimensional criteria to characterize health risks associated with asbestos inhalation.

Keywords: amphiboles; chrysotile; fine fibers; lung fiber burden; short fibers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / chemistry*
  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Asbestos / analysis
  • Asbestos / chemistry*
  • Asbestosis / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mineral Fibers / adverse effects
  • Mineral Fibers / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Quebec


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Mineral Fibers
  • Asbestos