Asbestos fibers in human pulmonary and extrapulmonary tissues

Am J Ind Med. 1988;14(3):331-9. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700140310.


The association between asbestos fibers in human lung tissues and those in other extrapulmonary organs was studied by analysing three autopsied cases, one of whom had a high pulmonary asbestos burden, one an intermediate burden, and one a low burden. The amount, types and sizes of asbestos fibers in the tissues of lung, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract were identified and measured by transmission electron microscopy equipped with an energy dispersive X-ray analyser. The following results were obtained: 1) The concentrations of asbestos fibers in extrapulmonary organs tended to increase with that in lung tissues. 2) The types of fibers identified in lungs were approximately consistent with those in other organs. 3) A relatively large range of fiber length was observed in both lungs and other organs. The findings extend and support previous light microscopic studies comparing asbestos bodies in various organs, and may imply that persons with high levels of asbestos in their lungs are also likely to have the same types and high levels of asbestos in their other tissues.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asbestos / analysis*
  • Digestive System / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / analysis*
  • Liver / analysis
  • Lung / analysis*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Pancreas / analysis
  • Spleen / analysis*


  • Asbestos