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Monday, March 28, 2016

Pleural mesothelioma reported in a school teacher: asbestos exposure due to DAS paste

The hazardous legacy exposures of school children and art teachers to  materials containing asbestos fiber, ie. Fibro Clay, and its causal relationship to mesothelioma, has been reported in a recent medical journal. Today's post is partially shared from

Malignant mesothelioma cases among primary school teachers are usually linked with asbestos exposure due to the mineral contained in the building structure. Among the approximately 12,000 cases of mesothelioma described in the fourth report of the National Mesothelioma Register, 11 cases of primary school teachers are reported, in spite of the fact that the "catalogue of asbestos use" does not describe circumstances of asbestos exposure other than or different to that due to asbestos contained in the buildings. Four cases in the Brescia Provincial Mesothelioma Register are identified as teachers, without this circumstance of exposure.
To characterize the asbestos concentration and fibre type retained in the lungs of a teacher reported as a new mesothelioma case and preliminarily classified as of unknown asbestos exposure.
The mesothelioma case presented here was diagnosed at age 78 and malignant mesothelioma was confirmed at autopsy; the patient was interviewed directly for occupational history. Samples of lung parenchyma from necropsies were collected, stored and analyzed by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and samples of DAS paste were analyzed by SEM to detect asbestos fibre content.
It was possible to confirm past exposure to DAS paste in forming and finishing dry items and toys during school recreational activity almost every day from the mid-60s to about the mid-70s. Subsequent SEM analysis showed: i) chrysotile fibres were found in an old and unused pack of DAS paste; ii) a lung burden of 1,400 asbestos bodies, 310.000 total asbestos fibres (33% chrysotile, 67% amphibole) and 210.000 talc fibre per gr/dry lung tissue was detected from necropsies performed on the subject. These results seem to be in agreement with an occupational exposure to asbestos due to past use of DAS paste. After the investigation, this case was reclassified from "unknowun" to " sure" occupational asbestos exposure. The occupational origin of the tumour was recognized by the Italian Workers' Compensation Authority (INAIL).
This case suggests i) the need to carry out any possible detailed studies of the circumstances and exposure sources whenever any mesothelioma case is classified as "asbestos exposure unknown", according to the guidelines of the National Mesothelioma Register, ii) handling of DAS paste can be considered as sure asbestos exposure and iii) it should be borne in mind that mesothelioma cases can occur even after cumulative low, occupational exposure, even only to chrysotile.
PMID: 27015029 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Med Lav. 2016 Mar 24;107(2):141-147.
[Article in Italian]

See also:
CPSC and Milton Bradley Co. Recall "Fibro-Clay"

March 1983

Release # 83-012

Washington, D.C. -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Milton Bradley Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, have been advised that asbestos has been found in packages of Milton Bradley's "Fibro-Clay", a school art modeling compound used to make paper mache'. The company is voluntarily recalling the product.
The Commission is taking immediate action to assure that manufacturers have not resumed using asbestos in this or any similar school art supplies and to assure that no additional lots of the old products containing asbestos exist. This will be accomplished through a nationwide sampling and testing program of distributors of this type of product.
Milton Bradley made Fibro-Clay from 1967 until 1975, when it ceased manufacture of the product. The firm stated that no asbestos has been used in the formula since 1972, and that the quantity sold by its Educational Division was relatively small.
Schools and consumers are advised to stop using Milton Bradley Fibro-Clay, even through the presence of asbestos may be limited to only a small percentage of this product. The Commission recommends placing the product in a plastic bag , trying to disturb the product as little as possible, and cleaning any areas contacted by the Fibro-Clay with water.
Asbestos has been shown to cause cancer of the lung and other organs according to studies of workers and others exposed to asbestos. The Commission is concerned that children in schools where Fibro-Clay is used might be exposed to airborne asbestos in view of the powdered composition of the product. School authorities in Wayne, New Jersey, recently identified asbestos in Fibro-Clay.
The Commission has been alerted to this matter by a WCBS-TV broadcast in New York City and by a letter from Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, a Professor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, describing recent tests of the product he conducted.
For further information, consumers may call the Milton Bradley Company (413) 525-6411, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission's toll-free Hotline on 800-638-CPSC. A teletypewriter number for the hearing impaired is (301) 595-7054.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to help ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals -– contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 40 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.