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Classification of man-made vitreous fibers: Comments on the revaluation by an IARC working group

: Wardenbach, P.; Rodelsperger, K.; Roller, M.; Muhle, H.


Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology 43 (2005), No.2, pp.181-93
ISSN: 0273-2300
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ITEM ()
intraperitoneal injection; inhalation exposure; sensitivity of rats and humans; IARC; Man-made fibers; Asbestos; Carcinogenesis

In 2001, an IARC working group revaluated the carcinogenic risks of man-made vitreous fibers (MMVF). Compared with the IARC evaluation in 1987, the overall evaluations of insulation glass wool, rock (stone) wool, and slag wool were changed from Group 2B to Group 3. These changes ensued from an alteration in the evidence for cancer in humans and in experimental animals: Instead of "sufficient," the evidence for cancer in experimental animals is now looked upon as "limited" if there is a carcinogenic response after intraperitoneal injection but not after recently conducted inhalation experiments. For these studies, it is argued that they did properly address the technological limitations of earlier inhalation experiments. For Maxim and McConnell [Maxim L.D., McConnell E.E., 2001. Interspecies comparisons of the toxicity of asbestos and synthetic vitreous fibers: a weight-of-the-evidence approach. Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 33, 319-342], well-conducted inhalation studies are very sensitive and rats may be more sensitive than humans in detecting the carcinogenic potential of MMVF. However, their arguments are highly questionable. The explanations of the IARC working group for preferring the newer inhalation studies are not sufficiently supported by the published data. Having in mind the higher sensitivity of humans compared to rats after inhalation of asbestos, more emphasis should have been given to the carcinogenic response after intraperitoneal injection.