Lung Asbestos Fibre Burden and Pleural Mesothelioma in Women with Non-occupational Exposure

Pietro Gino Barbieri, Anna Somigliana, Yao Chen, Dario Consonni, Roberto Vignola, Luigi Finotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) due to environmental and familial (domestic) asbestos exposure is well recognized. However, information on cumulative asbestos dose in subjects affected by MPM is limited. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the residual lung asbestos fibre and asbestos body burden in women with MPM with past environmental and/or familial asbestos exposure. METHODS: We collected lung samples from autopsies regarding 15 non-occupationally asbestos-exposed MPM cases, divided in three groups: (i) familial exposure from the Fincantieri shipyards in Monfalcone (No. 7), (ii) environmental and familial asbestos exposure from the asbestos-cement plant Fibronit in Broni (No. 6), and (iii) environmental exposure from the Fibronit plant (No. 2). Asbestos body (AB) and fibres (AF) per gram of dry lung tissue were counted by optical and scanning electron microscopy, respectively, and expressed as geometric means and standard deviations (GM, GSD). RESULTS: GM/GSD of AB counts were 6123/9.6 (Group 1), 13 800/10.4 (Group 2), and 8400/1.1 (Group 3); GM/GSD of AF were 0.6/2.1 (Group 1), 7.9/2.1 (Group 2), and 6.0/2.3 (Group 3) million. Pleural plaques were observed in 12 cases. CONCLUSIONS: Exclusive familial exposure to asbestos determined cumulative doses close to those observed in moderate occupational exposure circumstances. Our results also suggest that combined environmental and familial exposures may cause unexpectedly high cumulative fibre doses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 10 2020


  • familial and environmental exposure
  • lung asbestos fibre burden
  • pleural mesothelioma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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