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Apples to Apples: The Origin and Magnitude of Differences in Asbestos Cancer Risk Estimates Derived Using Varying Protocols

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Given that new protocols for assessing asbestos‐related cancer risk have recently been published, questions arise concerning how they compare to the “IRIS” protocol currently used by regulators. The newest protocols incorporate findings from 20 additional years of literature. Thus, differences between the IRIS and newer Berman and Crump protocols are examined to evaluate whether these protocols can be reconciled. Risks estimated by applying these protocols to real exposure data from both laboratory and field studies are also compared to assess the relative health protectiveness of each protocol. The reliability of risks estimated using the two protocols are compared by evaluating the degree with which each potentially reproduces the known epidemiology study risks. Results indicate that the IRIS and Berman and Crump protocols can be reconciled; while environment‐specific variation within fiber type is apparently due primarily to size effects (not addressed by IRIS), the 10‐fold (average) difference between amphibole asbestos risks estimated using each protocol is attributable to an arbitrary selection of the lowest of available mesothelioma potency factors in the IRIS protocol. Thus, the IRIS protocol may substantially underestimate risk when exposure is primarily to amphibole asbestos. Moreover, while the Berman and Crump protocol is more reliable than the IRIS protocol overall (especially for predicting amphibole risk), evidence is presented suggesting a new fiber‐size‐related adjustment to the Berman and Crump protocol may ultimately succeed in reconciling the entire epidemiology database. However, additional data need to be developed before the performance of the adjusted protocol can be fully validated.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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