Linking expert judgement and trends in occupational exposure into a job-exposure matrix for historical exposure to asbestos in The Netherlands
The aim of this article was to describe the structure and content of a job-exposure matrix (JEM) for historical asbestos exposure in The Netherlands. The JEM contained 309 occupational job title groups in 70 branches of industry during 10 periods of 5 years during 1945-1994, resulting in 3090 evaluations. Dutch sources on asbestos exposure measurements provided quantitative guidance for 69 evaluations (2.2%) in 25 occupational title groups. In addition, three databases from the UK Health and Safety Executive contributed to 222 evaluations (7.2%) and several other sources aided in another 133 evaluations (4.3%). These evaluations resulted in seven categories of exposure levels for all 3090 combinations of occupational title groups and periods. A verification process with five experts was used to adjust the assignments of exposure categories. The trends in exposure patterns over time were described in relation to production activities, operational control measures and the presence of dust control measures. For the majority of asbestos-related diseases in the past decades, reliable information on their historical exposure patterns was lacking. The limited availability of exposure measurements in the past illustrates the need for a structured assessment of historical asbestos exposure through a JEM.