In 1950s and 60s, asbestosis had been a major health hazard for asbestos exposed workers. In the late 1970s, lung cancers with or without asbestosis were found among asbestos workers. All cohort studies on asbestos workers and on chrysotile miners in China showed excess deaths from lung cancer. In a large scale of cohort study on asbestos workers, a synergistic effect was found between cigarette smoking and asbestos exposure in the production of lung cancer. There have been not so many cases of malignant mesotheliomas reported, so far. In the cohort of chrysotile miners, 4 cases of pleural mesothelioma were observed. In the large scale of cohort study on asbestos workers in 9 factories using only chrysotile only one case of pleural mesothelioma was detected for 10 years' observation. In another 2 cohort studies, 2 cases of peritoneal mesotheliomas were found, one in Shanghai asbestos factory where a small amount of crocidolite had been used in 1960s, and one in Anqing asbestos factory that was located near tremolite mine. Further study is needed especially for the relationship between exposure to Chinese chrysotile and malignant mesotheliomas.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health