Mortality and hospital discharges in the population of Biancavilla (Sicily) contaminated by natural fibres

Epidemiologia e Prevenzione. 2006 Jul-Oct;30(4-5):227-31. [Link]

Cernigliaro A, Fano V, Addario SP, Caruso S, Pennisi P, Forastiere F, Perucci CA, Comba P, Scondotto S.

Dipartimento osservatorio epidemiologico, Assessorato sanita, Regione Siciliana.


Objective: The volcanic area of Biancavilla (Sicily Italy) has been included by the Italian national law among the areas of “environmental reclamation” due to the presence of amphibole fluoro-edenitic fibres in the environment. The aim of the study was to evaluate the health of residents in the area, through the analysis of the mortality registry and the hospital discharge records.

Design: Age, cause and gender specific indirect standardized mortality ratios SMR (1995-2000) and morbidity ratios SHR (2001-2003) were computed with 95% confidence intervals, using the population of surrounding municipalities as reference.

Results: statistically significant increases in mortality and morbidity were observed, both in men and women, for malignant pleural neoplasms (mortality: men SMR= 700, 6 observed; women SMR= 840, 3 observed; hospital admissions: women SHR= 1210, 5 observed), cardiovascular diseases (mortality: men SMR= 115, 267 observed, women SMR= 115, 278 observed; hospital admissions: men SHR= 109, 631 observed; women SHR= 114, 528 observed) and respiratory diseases (mortality: men SMR= 164, 68 observed; women: SMR= 215, 44 observed; hospital admissions: men SHR= 139, 558 observed, women SHR= 125, 374 observed).

Conclusions: the excesses observed in this study are consistent with previous findings and suggest the need for further investigations aimed at improving the knowledge of the mineralogical aspects of the fibres, the assessment of human exposure and at estimating the prevalence of pleural plaques and lung fibrosis.