Mortality from asbestos-associated disease in Libby, Montana 1979–2011
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Mortality from asbestos-associated disease in Libby, Montana 1979–2011

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  • Alternative Title:
    J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol
  • Description:
    Research on asbestos exposure in Libby, MT, has focused on occupational exposure in vermiculite mining and processing, but less attention has been paid to asbestos-related mortality among community members without vermiculite mining occupational history. Our study reports on asbestos-related mortality in Libby over 33 years (1979-2011) while controlling for occupational exposure. We calculated sex-specific 33-year standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for Libby residents who died from 1979 to 2011 with an asbestos-related cause of death. Decedent address at time of death was geocoded to confirm inclusion in the Libby County Division. We controlled for past W.R. Grace employment by including and then removing them from the SMR analysis. Six hundred and ninety-four decedents were identified as having at least one asbestos-related cause of death and residing in our study area boundary. Statistically significant (P<0.05) 33-year SMRs, both before and after controlling for W.R. Grace employment, were found for: male and female non-malignant respiratory diseases, female COPD, and asbestosis for both sexes combined. Eighty-five men and two women were matched to employment records. We observed elevated asbestos-related mortality rates among males and females. SMR results for asbestosis were high for both sexes, even after controlling for past W.R. Grace employment. These results suggest that the general population may be experiencing asbestos-related effects, not just former vermiculite workers. Additional research is needed to determine whether SMRs remain elevated after controlling for secondary exposure, such as living with vermiculite workers.
  • Source:
    J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2017; 27(2):207-213.
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