Researchers study relationship of asbestos preparation and exposure to mesothelioma

by Brianna Crandall — August 31, 2016 — Of interest to building professionals engaged in renovations involving asbestos, the Surviving Mesothelioma Web site has just posted articles on new research on the difference in toxicity of asbestos fibers ground with water and those ground dry, and whether the method of exposure to asbestos affects the type of mesothelioma developed. Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma, reminds the site.

Toxicity of dry-ground asbestos fibers vs. wet-ground fibers

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine found that asbestos fibers ground to a powder without using water retain much more iron and are potentially even more likely to cause asbestos diseases such as lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. To conduct the study, the investigators ground chrysotile ore using two popular techniques — one with water and one without.

Asbestos fibers

A new study suggests that dry-ground asbestos fibers are more toxic than those ground with water.

Lead author Ashkan Salamatipour, with the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, states:

The toxicity of dry-ground fibers was higher than the toxicity of wet-ground fibers. Grinding with or without water did not materially alter the mineralogical properties. However, dry-ground fibers contained at least 7 times more iron than wet-ground fibers.

According to the study published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, mouse-derived immune system cells called macrophages were used to gauge the toxicity of each type of asbestos fiber. The higher-iron fibers triggered a higher production of reactive oxygen species, molecules known to promote the development and progression of mesothelioma tumors.

To learn more, see the “Asbestos Preparation Impacts Mesothelioma Risk” article on the Surviving Mesothelioma Web site, or view the original “Asbestos Fiber Preparation Methods Affect Fiber Toxicity” on the Environmental Science and Technology Letters Web site.

Relationship of mesothelioma subtype to asbestos exposure

Researchers at the University of Western Australia did a 50-year review of the Western Australian Mesothelioma Registry, comparing epithelioid, sarcomatoid, and biphasic mesothelioma patients with the details of their asbestos exposure histories. The scientists considered where and when each mesothelioma patient was exposed to asbestos and what type or form of asbestos they encountered. They then compared their findings to each patient’s mesothelioma subtype.

Researcher with microscope

The second study finds no consistent link between how a person was exposed to asbestos and the type of mesothelioma they develop.

Lead author Dr. Peter Franklin, with the School of Population Health at the University of Western Australia, writes, “There was no strong evidence of a consistent role of asbestos exposure indicators in determining the histological subtype of malignant mesothelioma.”

The article, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, did find a slight association between biphasic mesothelioma (the second most common type) and occupational, as opposed to environmental, exposure.

An understanding of mesothelioma subtype and its potential causes is critical because it is so closely connected to mesothelioma prognosis and survival,” points out Alex Strauss, managing editor of Surviving Mesothelioma.

For a more in-depth look, see the “Mesothelioma Subtype Unrelated to Source or Degree of Asbestos Exposure” report on the Surviving Mesothelioma Web site, or view the “Asbestos exposure and histological subtype of malignant mesothelioma” abstract from the Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal.