The study describes a cluster of 71 malignant mesothelioma cases among Bari residents without asbestos exposure other than residential exposure. This small cohort, as expected, was composed of a majority of females (56.34%) with a M/F ratio of 0.8, ages ≤ 65 years old (52.11%) and the epithelioid morphological type (78.87%). Sixty-four subjects (90.14%) lived between 10 m and 1000 m from the asbestos cement factory (Fibronit), and the latency length was longer than 55 years for 25 subjects (35.21%). The adjusted risk (adjusted OR) of observing the epithelial form of mesothelioma among subjects living at small distances from Fibronit was high (OR = 1.870 (0.353-9.905)) for people living 550-1000 m from the site and for those living less than 550 m from the site (OR = 1.470 (0.262-8.248)). Additionally, the subjects with a high length of exposure showed a relevant risk of epithelioid mesothelioma both for 21-40 years of exposure (OR = 2.027 (0.521-7.890)) and more than 40 years of exposure (OR = 2.879 (0.651-12.736)). All of the estimates were high but not significant because this transitional study has a typically low power. The adjustment for latency showed the same trend. Using detailed information collected by the regional mesothelioma registry, this study provided evidence of a continuing health impact of the Fibronit asbestos cement factory in Bari on the resident population.
Keywords: air pollution; asbestos; asbestos cement factory; mesothelioma; mesothelioma register; residential–environmental exposure; southern Italy.