Asbestos exposure in the non-asbestos textile industry: the experience of the Lombardy Mesothelioma Registry

Epidemiologia e Prevenzione. 2007 Jul-Aug;31(4 Suppl 1):27-30. [Link]

Mensi C, Macchione M, Termine L, Canti Z, Rivolta G, Riboldi L, Chiappino G.

Dipartimento di medicina preventiva, ambientale e del lavoro, Fondazione IRCCS-Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Mangiagalli e Regina Elena.


The Lombardy Mesothelioma Registry, activated in 2000, receives more than 300 cases per year of suspected malignant mesothelioma; the standardized (age and gender) incidence rate of pleural mesothelioma is 2.4/100,000 inhabitants (CI 95% 2.0-2.7). The finding of an increasing number of cases among workers of the non-asbestos-textile industry, classified as "unknown exposure to asbestos", upheld the suspect of presence of asbestos in this compartment. Specific information about a possible asbestos exposure were collected by technicians, maintenance personnel and other experts; industrial machinery utilized in the past was thoroughly examined; direct inspections were carried out in several workplaces that had not yet undergone significant changes with respect to the past. A large amount of asbestos had been regularly used on the ceilings and also to the walls of factories in order to avoid both condensation of steam and reflection of noise. In addition, asbestos had also been widely used to insulate water and steam pipes. The braking systems of most of machines also had asbestos gaskets, and on several looms some brakes operated continuously. The population in study was composed of 119 subjects, 27 males and 92 females, median age of 72 years. Asbestos exposure was ascribed to work in 106 cases (89%). The system devised by the Lombardy Registry had brought to light an occupational hazard in a professional area previously never believed as a source of asbestos exposure. In consideration of the described experience, both environmental and clinical, it seems reasonable to consider the non-asbestos-textile as a new department at risk for asbestos exposure.