Case-fatality study of workers and residents with radiographic asbestos disease in Libby, Montana

Albert Miller, Charles B. Black, Gregory Loewen, Curtis W. Noonan, Tracy McNew, Alan C. Whitehouse, Arthur L. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Vermiculite ore from Libby, Montana contains on average 24% of a mixture of toxic and carcinogenic amphibole asbestiform fibers. These comprise primarily winchite (84%), with smaller quantities of richterite (11%) and tremolite (6%), which are together referred to as Libby amphibole (LA). Methods: A total of 1883 individuals who were occupationally and/or environmentally exposed to LA and were diagnosed with asbestos-related pleuropulmonary disease (ARPPD) following participation in communitywide screening programs supported by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and followed up at the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) between 2000 and 2010. There were 203 deaths of patients with sufficient records and radiographs. Best clinical and radiologic evidence was used to determine the cause of death, which was compared with death certificates. Results: Asbestos-related mortality was 55% (n = 112) in this series of 203 patients. Of the 203 deaths, 34 (17%) were from asbestos-related malignancy, 75 (37%) were from parenchymal asbestosis, often with pleural fibrosis, and 3 (1.5%) were from respiratory failure secondary to pleural thickening. Conclusions: Asbestos is the leading cause of mortality following both occupational and nonoccupational exposure to LA in those with asbestos-related disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-202
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume65
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Libby amphibole (LA)
  • asbestos-related pleuropulmonary disease (ARPPD)
  • case fatality
  • lamellar pleural thickening (LPT)
  • mortality
  • vermiculite

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