Mesotheliomas following exposure to asbestos used in railroads: 130 Italian cases

C. Maltoni, C. Pinto, R. Carnuccio, D. Valenti, P. Lodi, E. Amaducci

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The available knowledge on the oncogenic risks of asbestos, the data on the uses of asbestos in railroads, with particular regard to the Italian State Railroads (Ferrovie dello Stato = FS), and the groups at risk due to the exposure to asbestos used in railroads were briefly reviewed. The available data on the pathological effects of such exposure, and particularly on the onset of mesotheliomas among machinists and other railroad workers, were also summarized. One hundred and thirty cases of mesothelioma (122 pleural, 1 pericardial, 6 peritoneal and 1 pleuro-peritoneal), related to the exposure to asbestos used in railroads, observed in various Italian regions, were reported. Fifty-three of these cases (among which 49 reported in the Emilia Romagna Region) were submitted to a detailed study at the Bologna Institute of Oncology. Seventy-seven cases of mesothelioma occurred among occupationally exposed FS workers, in particular machinists: 45 cases occurred among rolling-stock machinists and workers engaged in the repair and demolition of the rails of workshops not belonging to the FS; 3 cases occurred among travelling workers of rolling-stock, not belonging to the FS; and 5 cases were found in family members (1 daughter, 3 wives and 1 sister) of railroad workers. This series of cases, together with similar data from the literature, proves the existence of an actual heath risk due to asbestos used in railroads, and indicates its gravity. On the basis of the available data, the following steps are considered necessary: the promotion of systematic epidemiological investigations, the adoption of preventive measures, the performance of medical oncological surveillance and the automatic compensation for tumours following the exposure to the asbestos used in railroads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-477
Number of pages17
JournalMedicina del Lavoro
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • asbestos
  • mesothelioma
  • railroads

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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