Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1986;12 suppl 1:26-33    pdf

Past exposures to airborne fibers and other potential risk factors in the European man-made mineral fiber production industry.

by Cherrie J, Dodgson J

A historical environmental investigation was undertaken in European man-made mineral fiber factories (MMMF). The aim was to assess past exposures to MMMF and other environmental risk factors (asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, formaldehyde, and arsenic). A self-administered questionnaire completed by each plant management and an interview of the respondents were used. Addition of oil to the MMMF, change in the nominal fiber size of the bulk MMMF, and elimination of early discontinuous production techniques were identified as principal changes. The absence of oil, small nominal size, and labor-intensive production have been judged to be associated with higher airborne fiber levels. It was concluded that for epidemiologic purposes the subdivision of the history of each plant into an early, intermediate, and late technological phase based on the aforementioned changes would be appropriate. Corresponding time periods were identified for asbestos usage, use of bitumen as a binder, and production of slag wool. Two factories were singled out for specific attention: one where asbestos was used in calcium silicate brick production and one where olivine, used as a raw material, may have been contaminated with natural mineral fibers and where the production process would have exposed workers to coal-tar pitch volatiles.