Risk Assessment of Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma in People Living near Asbestos-Related Factories in Taiwan

Ho Yuan Chang, Cheng Ren Chen, Jung Der Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Estimates from environmental risk assessments are criticized by professionals who indicate that inaccuracies occur in exposure assessment, model selection, and determination of the population at risk. In the current study, we tackled the aforementioned issues and estimated the risks of lung cancer and mesothelioma caused by airborne asbestos among individuals who lived near asbestos factories in Taiwan. We conducted 8-h full-period samplings upwind and downwind from each factory, and we used transmission-electronic microscopy (10 000x) and phase-contrast microscopy to determine asbestos concentrations in and around each factory. We estimated the numbers of residents who lived in concentric circles of 200-m, 400-m, and 600-m diameters around each factory. A dose-response model for asbestos-induced lung cancer was adopted from a summary of seven epidemiological studies. The asbestos-mesothelioma models were patterned after the first-exposure-effect models developed by Peto and Finkelstein. The data obtained from phase-contrast microscopy significantly overestimated the risk, compared with transmission-electronic microscopy. The estimates we calculated from adopting the arithmetic mean were approximately 2-fold higher than those we calculated with the geometric mean. There were relatively low concentrations of asbestos in the study areas, thus causing an absence of a significant difference in risk estimates between different models for mesothelioma. Among the more than 20 000 residents who lived near 41 asbestos factories in Taiwan, we found that the numbers of expected excess deaths from lung cancer and mesothelioma were 5 and less than 1, respectively. We concluded that in future risk assessments for ambient asbestos exposure, investigators should adopt transmission-electronic microscopy and the geometric mean estimate. Moreover, Taiwan should enhance asbestos-control programs to assure the safety of residents who live near asbestos factories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-201
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Environmental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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