A pleural mesothelioma arose in an employee of a wine farm whose work history shows an unusual occupational exposure to asbestos. The information, gathered directly from the case and from a work colleague, clarifies some aspects of the use of asbestos in the process of winemaking which has not been previously reported in such details. The man had worked as a winemaker from 1960 to 1988 in a farm, which in those years produced around 2500 hectoliters of wine per year, mostly white. The wine was filtered to remove impurities; the filter was created by dispersing in the wine asbestos fibers followed by diatomite while the wine was circulating several times and clogging a prefilter made of a dense stainless steel net. Chrysotile asbestos was the sole asbestos mineralogical variety used in these filters and exposure could occur during the phase of mixing dry fibers in the wine and during the filter replacement. A daily and annual time weighted average level of exposure and cumulative dose have been estimated in the absence of airborne asbestos fiber monitoring performed in that workplace. Since 1993, the Italian National Mesothelioma Register, an epidemiological surveillance system, has recorded eight cases with at least one work period spent as winemaker. Four of them never used asbestos filters and presented exposures during other work periods, the other four used asbestos filters but had also other exposures in other industrial divisions. For the information hitherto available, this is the first mesothelioma case with exclusive exposure in the job of winemaking.
Keywords: asbestos exposure assessment; chrysotile; cumulative dose; epidemiological surveillance; exposure estimate; mesothelioma; past exposure; unusual asbestos exposure; wine filters.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society.