Asbestos retention in human respiratory tissues: comparative measurements in lung parenchyma and in parietal pleura

IARC Sci Publ. 1980:(30):237-46.


Asbestos fibres in respiratory tissues from 29 cases diversely exposed to asbestos dusts have been characterized, sized and counted using a transmission electron microscope. Comparison of data obtained by measurement of fibres in lung parenchyma and in parietal pleura samples showed the following: -- In each case, the proportion of chrysotile fibres (as opposed to amphiboles) was higher in parietal pleura than in lung parenchyma. (The proportion of chrysotile in pleura was greater than 90% in 30 of the 40 samples.) -- Fibres encountered in parietal pleura were shorter than those in the parenchyma. -- There was no evident correlation between numerical concentrations of fibres in lung parenchyma and those in parietal pleura. This study has shown that characteristics of asbestos retention in parietal pleura cannot be derived from measurements in lung parenchyma. On the basis of the cases analysed here, who were exposed to mixed types of asbestos dust, chrysotile seems to be the asbestos type retained almost exclusively in parietal pleural tissues. These findings might be taken into account when assessing the risk of pleural diseases (especially mesothelioma) attributable to each type of asbestos fibre.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Asbestos / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / analysis*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Middle Aged
  • Particle Size
  • Pleura / analysis*
  • Pleura / pathology
  • Pleural Effusion / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Asbestos