Relation of particle dimension to carcinogenicity in amphibole asbestoses and other fibrous minerals

J Natl Cancer Inst. 1981 Nov;67(5):965-75.


In 72 experiments, durable minerals in the form of particles on respirable size and of wide chemical and structural varieties, were implanted in the pleurae of outbred female Osborne- Mendel rats for periods of more than 1 year. The incidence of induced malignant mesenchymal neoplasms correlated well with the dimensional distribution of the particles. The probability of pleural sarcoma correlated best with a number of fibers that measured 0.25 micro or less in diameter and more than 8 micrometer in length, but relatively high correlations were also noted with fibers in other size categories having diameters up to 1.5 micrometer and lengths greater than 4 micrometer. Morphologic observations indicated that short fibers and large-diameter fibers were inactivated by phagocytosis and that negligible phagocytosis of long, thin fibers occurred. The wide variety of compounds used in these experiments suggested that the carcinogenicity of fibers depended on dimension and durability rather than on physicochemical properties.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Minerals / adverse effects*
  • Particle Size
  • Pleural Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Rats
  • Sarcoma, Experimental / etiology


  • Minerals
  • Asbestos