Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2000;26(1):52-61    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.510

Past occupational exposure to asbestos among men in France

by Goldberg M, Banaei A, Goldberg S, Auvert B, Luce D, Guéguen A

Objectives This study aimed at reconstructing changes in the frequency and levels of occupational asbestos exposure in France over the past century.

Methods Work histories were collected during 11 population-based case-referent studies recently carried out in France, and an asbestos-specific job-exposure matrix including 10 625 jobs was used to estimate indices of past occupational asbestos exposure. The results were estimated from a sample of 4287 subjects, bootstrapped 200 times.

Results The distribution of socioeconomic categories within the sample was compared with that of the general population in 1954, 1962, 1968, 1975, and 1982. The proportion of blue-collar workers was similar. The highest proportion of exposed subjects was found between 1950 and 1980. Around 10% of each 10-year age class was exposed to asbestos. For those born in 1930-1939, 15.2% was exposed between the ages of 20 and 29 years. For each age class born in 1900-1939, the proportion exposed at least once by 60 years of age ranged from 18.2% to 24.5% and, of those exposed, the cumulative duration of exposure ranged from 11.3 to 15.4 years by the age of 60 years. A population exposure index showed that the heaviest exposure occurred between 1960 and 1970 and that the age classes born between 1920 and 1929 were the most heavily exposed. Time trends showed that the mean value of this index for the men aged 20-59 years reached a peak in the 1960s and then decreased.

Conclusion This study presents data of reasonable validity about occupational asbestos exposure in France and its trends over the past century; the data are being used to forecast the development of male mortality from mesothelioma in France.