Fiber burden and patterns of asbestos-related disease in workers with heavy mixed amosite and chrysotile exposure

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1994 Sep;150(3):663-9. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.150.3.8087335.


To attempt to determine the mineralogic factors that relate to the appearance of specific types of asbestos-related disease in workers with heavy mixed exposure to amphiboles and chrysotile, we analyzed the pulmonary asbestos fiber burden in a series of 144 shipyard workers and insulators from the Pacific Northwest. Amosite was found in all lungs, and tremolite and chrysotile in most lungs, but the vast majority of fibers were amosite. Tremolite and chrysotile concentrations were significantly correlated, indicating that the tremolite originated from chrysotile products, but no correlation was found between tremolite or chrysotile concentration and amosite concentration. Time since last exposure was correlated with decreasing amosite concentration and the calculated clearance half time was about 20 yr. In a multiple regression analysis that accounted for the presence of more than one disease in many subjects, a high concentration of amosite fibers was correlated with the presence of airway fibrosis and asbestosis, whereas subjects with mesothelioma, lung cancer, pleural plaques, or no asbestos-related disease had about the same, much lower, amosite concentration. No relationship was found between the concentration of chrysotile or tremolite and any disease. Analysis of fiber size measures (length, width, aspect ratio, surface, mass) showed that pleural plaques were strongly associated with high aspect ratio amosite fibers and suggested that mesotheliomas were associated with low aspect ratio amosite fibers.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asbestos, Amosite / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos, Amosite / analysis
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / adverse effects
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / analysis
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / analysis
  • Asbestosis / epidemiology
  • Asbestosis / etiology
  • Asbestosis / pathology*
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Construction Materials / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / chemistry
  • Lung / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Northwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Ships
  • Time Factors


  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Asbestos, Amosite
  • tremolite