Objectives: Mining and processing of chrysotile, an established carcinogen, has been undertaken in Asbest, Russian Federation since the late 1800s. Dust concentrations were routinely recorded at the open-pit mine and its asbestos-enrichment factories. We examined the temporal trends in these dust concentrations from 1951 to 2001.
Methods: Analyses included 89290 monthly averaged gravimetric dust concentrations in six factories (1951-2001) and 1457 monthly averaged concentrations in the mine (1964-2001). Annual percent changes (APC) in geometric mean dust concentrations were estimated for each factory and the mine separately from linear mixed models of the logarithmic-transformed monthly averaged concentrations.
Results: Dust concentrations declined significantly in the mine [APC: -1.6%; 95% confidence interval (CI): -3.0 to -0.2] and Factories 1-5 but not 6. Overall factory APCs ranged from -30.4% (95% CI: -51.9 to -8.9; Factory 1: 1951-1955) to -0.6% (95% CI: -1.5 to 0.2; Factory 6: 1969-2001). Factory trends varied across decades, with the steepest declines observed before 1960 [APCs: -21.5% (Factory 2) and -17.4% (Factory 3)], more moderate declines in the 1960s and 1970s [APCs from -10% in Factory 2 (1960s) to -0.3% (not statistically significant) in Factory 4 (1970s)], and little change thereafter. Mine dust concentrations increased in the 1960s (APC: +9.7%; 95% CI: 3.6 to 15.9), decreased in the 1990s (APC: -5.8%; 95% CI: -8.1 to -3.5) and were stable in between.
Conclusions: In this analysis of >90000 dust concentrations, factory dust concentrations declined between 1951 and 1979 and then stabilized. In the mine, dust levels increased in the 1960s, declined in the 1990s and were unchanged in the interim.
Keywords: Russian Federation; asbestos; chrysotile; dust measurement.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Occupational Hygiene Society 2017.