Author(s): Baan RA, Grosse Y
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Abstract Man-made vitreous (glass-like) fibres are non-crystalline, fibrous inorganic substances (silicates) made primarily from rock, slag, glass or other processed minerals. These materials, also called man-made mineral fibres, include glass fibres (used in glass wool and continuous glass filament), rock or stone wool, slag wool and refractory ceramic fibres. They are widely used for thermal and acoustical insulation and to a lesser extent for other purposes. These products are potentially hazardous to human health because they release airborne respirable fibres during their production, use and removal. Man-made mineral fibres and man-made vitreous fibres have been the subject of reviews by IARC Monographs Working Groups in 1987 and 2001, respectively, which resulted in evaluations of the carcinogenic hazard to humans from exposure to these materials. These reviews and evaluations have been published as Volumes 43 and 81 of the IARC Monographs series [IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, vol. 43, Man-made Mineral Fibres and Radon (1988); IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, vol. 81, Man-made Vitreous Fibres (2002)]. The re-evaluation in 2001 was undertaken because there have been substantial improvements in the quality of the epidemiological information available on the carcinogenicity to humans of glass fibres, continuous glass filament and rock/slag wool. The new evaluations have addressed the limitations of earlier cohort studies, particularly concerning the lack of adjustment with respect to concomitant risk factors such as smoking and other sources of occupational exposure. In addition, the evaluation of the evidence for carcinogenicity of glass fibres to experimental animals has been refined, by making a distinction between insulation glass wool and special-purpose glass fibres. The results of the evaluations in 1987 and 2001 are thus different in several aspects. In this paper, the reviews and evaluations of the carcinogenic hazards of exposure to man-made mineral fibres (MMMF, Monograph volume 43, ) and man-made vitreous fibres (MMVF, Monograph volume 81, ) are summarised, and the differences explained. In particular, the considerations of the respective IARC Monographs Working Groups (1987, 2001) in reaching their conclusions are discussed in some detail.
This article was published in Mutat Res
and referenced in Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology