Pneumoconiosis and malignant mesothelioma in a family operated metal casting business that used industrial talc from New York state
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BACKGROUND: The United States is second only to the People's Republic of China in annual talc production. U.S. talc is used in the production of ceramics, paint, paper, plastics, roofing, rubber, cosmetics, flooring, caulking, and agricultural applications. A number of U.S. talc deposits consistently contain talc intergrown with amphiboles such as tremolite and/or anthophyllite. It has long been recognized that miners and millers of talc deposits are at risk for pneumoconiosis and it has recently been reported that it is prudent, on the balance of probabilities, to conclude that dusts from New York State talc ores are capable of causing mesothelioma in exposed workers. This is a report of the diagnosis of pneumoconiosis and mesothelioma in a husband and wife who operated a small metal casting business that used industrial talc from New York as a parting agent. METHODS: Case reports, including medical records and exposure histories, were provided by an attorney who had also commissioned laboratory investigation of the industrial talc product used in the factory. RESULTS: Mrs X was diagnosed with pneumoconiosis characterized by interstitial fibrosis and heavily calcified pleural plaques. Mr X had calcified pleural plaques and developed a fatal pleural mesothelioma. Samples of the industrial talc contained fibrous tremolite and anthophyllite. CONCLUSIONS: The author concludes that end users of industrial talc from New York State may be at risk of pneumoconiosis and malignant disease. End users of talcs from other regions of the United States, where talc formation arose from processes driven by regional metamorphism, might also be at risk.