Carcinogenic implications of the lack of tremolite in UICC reference chrysotile

Am J Ind Med. 1998 Oct;34(4):314-7. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199810)34:4<314::aid-ajim3>;2-s.


Using light and electron microscopy analysis, as well as electron diffraction, and energy-dispersive x-ray analysis, an aliquot of UICC chrysotile B was analyzed with special attention given to any tremolite contamination. Polarized light microscopy, with its limit of detection of approximately 1 micron when using dispersion staining, revealed chrysotile as the only fibrous asbestos component. Analytical electron microscopy at 333,000x of more than 20,000 consecutive fibers showed only the tubular morphology characteristic of chrysotile. These findings highlight that when this sample was used for exposure disease induced in animal models correlates with chrysotile-induced pathology, and does not support an explanation based on the "amphibole hypothesis." Thus, chrysotile should be considered as having the biologic ability to produce cancers, including mesotheliomas, based on the extensive use of this material as a standard reference material.

MeSH terms

  • Asbestos, Amphibole / adverse effects
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / analysis*
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / chemistry
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / adverse effects
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / analysis*
  • Asbestos, Serpentine / chemistry
  • Carcinogens / adverse effects
  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Mesothelioma / etiology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Reference Values
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • Asbestos, Serpentine
  • Carcinogens
  • tremolite