OBJECTIVE: To describe the occupational background of cases with an asbestos-related disease and to present overall mesothelioma risks across industries with historical exposure to asbestos. METHODS: For the period 1990-2000, cases were collected from records held by two law firms. Information on jobs held, previous employers, activities performed and specific products used were obtained from patients themselves or next of kin. Branches of industry and occupations were coded and the likelihood of asbestos exposure was assessed. For each branch of industry, the overall risk of mesothelioma was calculated from the ratio of the observed number of mesothelioma cases and the cumulative population-at-risk in the period 1947-1960. In order to compare mesothelioma risks across different industries, risk ratios were calculated for the primary asbestos industry and asbestos user industries relative to all other branches of industry. RESULTS: In total, 710 mesotheliomas and 86 asbestosis cases were available. The average latency period was approximately 40 yr and the average duration of exposure was 22 yr. Ship building and maintenance contributed the largest number of cases (27%), followed by the construction industry (14%), the insulation industry (12%), and the navy and army, primarily related to ship building and maintenance (5%). In the insulation industry, the overall risk of mesothelioma was 5 out of 100 workers, and in the ship building industry, 1 out of 100 workers. The construction industry had an overall risk comparable with many other asbestos-using industries (7 per 10,000 workers), but due to its size claimed many mesothelioma cases. CONCLUSION: The majority of cases with asbestos-related diseases had experienced their first asbestos exposure prior to 1960. For cases with first asbestos exposure after 1960, a shift was observed from the primary asbestos industry towards asbestos-using industries, such as construction, petroleum refining, and train building and maintenance. Due to the long latency period, asbestos exposure from 1960 to 1980 will cause a considerable number of mesothelioma cases in the next two decades.

Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Asbestos/*adverse effects, Asbestosis/epidemiology/etiology, Humans, Mesothelioma/epidemiology/*etiology, Middle aged, Netherlands/epidemiology, Occupational Diseases/epidemiology/*etiology
Annals of Occupational Hygiene: an international scientific journal on the causation and control of work-related ill-health
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Burdorf, A, Dahhan, M, & Swuste, P. (2003). Occupational characteristics of cases with asbestos-related diseases in The Netherlands. Annals of Occupational Hygiene: an international scientific journal on the causation and control of work-related ill-health. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/10196