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Hazards

Asbestos workers have increased chances of getting two principal types of cancer: cancer of the lung tissue itself and mesothelioma, a cancer of the thin membrane that surrounds the lung and other internal organs. These diseases do not develop immediately following exposure to asbestos, but appear only after a number of years. The following references describe the health hazards of asbestos and how to recognize them.

  • Asbestos (PDF*). OSHA Fact Sheet.
  • Asbestos Standard for the General Industry (PDF). OSHA Publication 3095, (1995). Provides general OSHA guidelines for asbestos.
  • Asbestos. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Includes recommendations for preventing occupational exposure to asbestos and other resources.
  • Revised Recommended Asbestos Standard. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-169, (1976, December). Provides extensive discussion of asbestos hazards and control measures. Though the material is dated, this is a valuable resource.
  • Asbestos-Contaminated Vermiculite mined from Libby, Montana
    • Vermiculite. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Includes health effects, how workers should be protected, and NIOSH investigations of potential asbestos exposures to downstream users of this vermiculite.
    • Asbestos in Your Home. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Provides residents of Libby, Montana information to reduce asbestos exposure until the EPA Superfund clean-up program is completed.
  • Take Home Toxins. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Provides information on contamination of workers' homes by hazardous substances transported from the workplace.
    • Protect Your Family - Reduce Contamination at Home. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-125, (1997). Summarizes a NIOSH conducted study of contamination of workers' homes by hazardous substances transported from the workplace.
    • Protecting Workers' Families - A Research Agenda: Report of the Workers' Family Protection Task Force. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-113, (2002, February). Represents the Task Force's commentary on the 1995 NIOSH Workers' Home Contamination Study report, identifies gaps in the current knowledge about take-home exposures and related health effects, and provides a prioritized agenda for federally sponsored research.
  • TOXNET for Asbestos. The National Library of Medicine Hazardous Substance Database.
  • Report on Carcinogens (RoC). Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Public Health Services, National Toxicology Program (NTP). US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Assesses the carcinogenicity of chemicals and hazardous substances, including these respirable-size mineral fibers assessed as "carcinogens" or "reasonably anticipated" carcinogens. The listing of substances in the RoC only indicates a potential hazard and does not establish the exposure conditions that would pose cancer risks to individuals.
  • Asbestos (Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Tremolite, Actinolite, and Anthophyllite) (PDF). World Health Organization (WHO), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 100C, 2012.
  • Asbestos (Actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, chrysotile, crocidolite, tremolite)(Group 1) (PDF). World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Overall Evaluations of Carcinogenicity: An Updating of IARC Monographs Volumes 1 to 42, Supplement 7, 1998. IARC Classification: Carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).
  • Greenberg M., Davies L, T. A. "Mesothelioma Register 1967-68." British Journal of Industrial Medicine, 31, 91-104, 1974. In this study the briefest occupational exposure to asbestos associated with a mesothelial tumour was three weeks, but if asbestos was a cause of mesothelioma it cannot be assumed that lesser exposures are safe.
  • Hammar SP, Henderson DW, Klebe S, Dodson RF. "Chapter 43: Neoplasms of the pleura." In: Tomashefski JF Jr., ed. Dail and Hammar's Pulmonary Pathology, 3rd Edition. New York: Springer, 2008.
  • Hodgson JT, Darton A. "The quantitative risks of mesothelioma and lung cancer in relation to asbestos exposure." Epidemiology and Medical Statistics Unit, Health and Safety Executive, Magdalen House, Stanley Precinct, L20 3QZ, Bootle, UK, 2000. Discusses whether there is a threshold for cancer initiation by asbestos which is a question with important implications for risk at low levels of exposure.
  • Pira et. al. "Mortality from cancer and other causes in the Balangero cohort of chrysotile asbestos miners." Occup Environ Med 2009;66:12 805-809. All pleural and peritoneal cancer deaths occurred 30 or more years after first exposure. This updated analysis, with almost 60% of the cohort having died, confirmed the excess mortality from pleural and peritoneal cancers and from several alcohol-related causes.
  • Skammeritz, E et. al. "Asbestos Exposure and Survival in Malignant Mesothelioma: A Description of 122 Consecutive Cases at an Occupational Clinic (PDF)." The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (IJOEM), Vol 2, No 4 October 2011. Provides description of patients with malignant mesothelioma (MM), focusing on exposure, occupation, survival and prognostic factors.
  • Wang X, Lin S, et. al. "Cause-specific mortality in a Chinese chrysotile textile worker cohort." JC School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. A cohort of 586 males and 279 females from a chrysotile textile factory were prospectively followed for 37 years. The data confirmed significantly excess mortality from mesothelioma in either gender, lung and larynx cancers in males, and ovarian cancer in females.
  • Toxicological Profile for Asbestos. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2001, September). Characterizes the toxicological and adverse health effects information of asbestos.
  • ToxFAQs for Asbestos. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (2001, September). Answers the most frequently asked health questions about asbestos.
  • Asbestos (CASRN 1332-21-4). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Discusses the health effects of asbestos.
  • Asbestos. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lists asbestos as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) under the National Emissions Standard Hazardous Air Pollutants section of its Clean Air Act.
  • Asbestos Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Asbestos (PDF). New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet, (2001, January). Provides a summary source of information of all potential and most severe health hazards that may result from asbestos exposure.
  • Asbestosis. American Lung Association (ALA). Provides fact sheets on asbestosis, links to its asbestos page, and to reports on other forms of lung disease. Founded in 1904 to fight tuberculosis, ALA today fights lung disease in all its forms.
  • Asbestos Statistics and Information. US Geological Survey (USGS), (2010). Includes commodities production summaries, minerals yearbook and special publications.
  • Fact Sheet on Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk: Questions and Answers. National Cancer Institute (NCI).
  • Online Safety Library: Asbestos. Oklahoma State University. Provides information about asbestos monitoring, exposure, toxidynamics, asbestos policy, regulatory standards and removal.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Summarizes essential health and safety information.

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 639-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 639-2300.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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