Study: The asbestos fibre anthophyllite, which was produced in Finland, is associated with pleural mesothelioma

Anthophyllite was the only asbestos fibre that was detected in about one hundred cases of pleural mesothelioma. The findings support the view that anthophyllite can cause mesothelioma. The study was conducted in co-operation between the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The study included 590 mesothelioma patients who had deceased between 2000 and 2012. An analysis of the concentration of asbestos fibres had been previously made on the lungs of these patients. The analyses were conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health from samples taken at forensic autopsies of the mesothelioma patients.
Henrik Wolff

The study investigated the quantity and quality of the asbestos fibres found in the lung tissue of the mesothelioma patients. In the samples, crocidolite was even more common than anthophyllite. Crocidolite has been widely used in asbestos spraying.

“The concentrations of crocidolite were significantly higher than other types of asbestos. It seems that this is due to the high levels of asbestos seen in association with asbestos spraying ” says Chief Medical Officer Henrik Wolff from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

In addition to anthophyllite and crocidolite, the samples also contained amosite, chrysotile and tremolite (actinolite).

The study also investigated the link between the quantity of asbestos fibres and the life expectancy of mesothelioma patients. The results show that this quantity only has a minor effect on life expectancy.

The study was supported by the Finnish Work Environment Fund.

Exposures to asbestos still occur

Asbestos is the most common chemical exposure agent that causes work-related illnesses and premature deaths in Finland. Asbestos was most commonly used in construction materials in the 1960s and 1970s, when the overall annual use of asbestos was more than 10,000 tonnes. The good technical features and affordability of asbestos were the reasons it was used so widely.

The reuse of asbestos was banned in Finland in 1993 and in all EU member states in 2005. Spray-applying asbestos was the first application of asbestos that was banned. It is still possible to become exposed to asbestos during renovations and in the mining industry.

About a hundred cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed every year in Finland.

For more information, please contact

  • Henrik Wolff, Chief Medical Officer, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 (0)46 851 2261, henrik.wolff [at] (henrik[dot]wolff[at]ttl[dot]fi)

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