In Addition to Asbestos, Other Fibers Could Increase Mesothelioma Risk

More than 40 years ago, scientists confirmed the association between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Now, some experts are stating that another mineral, erionite, may also be implicated in mesothelioma cases.

A recent French study suggests that two other types of mineral particles commonly used in industry may also heighten the risk of mesothelioma, especially if a person has also been exposed to asbestos. The researchers from Bordeaux compared 2,370 healthy industrial workers with 1,199 industrial workers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, paying particular attention to each worker’s history of exposure to asbestos, mineral wool, and silica.

Mineral wool, like asbestos, is resistant to heat, fire, rot, and moisture and it has high tensile strength. Mineral wool is used in a variety of industrial applications. Silica is a crystal compound that is used to make glass and ceramics. It is also added as an abrasive to many products.

The French study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, involved the collection of complete job histories from all subjects, especially focusing on exposure to asbestos, mineral wool, and silica.

Unfortunately, study results show that many industrial workers may be at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma than we had previously thought. They found “a significant association between mesothelioma and mineral wool exposure.” The risk of developing mesothelioma grows in relation to the level of exposure. The researchers also indicated that the risk of developing mesothelioma is higher for people who have been exposed to mineral as well as asbestos than for people exposed to asbestos alone.

“Our results are in favor of an increased risk of pleural mesothelioma for subjects exposed to both asbestos and mineral wool or asbestos and silica,” concludes the report.

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