Journal Articles

Publication Date



Gaceta Sanitaria


OBJECTIVE: What are the levels of asbestos exposure that cause each type of health effect? The objective of this study was to review the available scientific evidence on exposure levels for asbestos and their relationship to health effects.

METHOD: An umbrella review of English-language reviews and meta-analyses, from 1980 to March 2021 was conducted. We included reviews involving quantified asbestos exposures and health outcomes. The review has been adapted to the indications of the PRISMA declaration. Methodological quality of the selected studies was assessed using the AMSTAR instrument.

RESULTS: We retrieved 196 references. After applying the search strategy and quality analysis, 10 reviews were selected for in-depth analysis. For lung cancer, the highest risk was observed with exposure to amphiboles. Longer, thinner fibers had the greatest capacity to cause lung cancer, especially those > 10 μm in length. For mesothelioma, longer and thinner fibers were also more pathogenic; amphiboles ≥ 5 μm are especially associated with increased mesothelioma risk. No studies observed an increased risk for lung cancer or mesothelioma at asbestos exposure levels

CONCLUSIONS: Banning all asbestos exposure remains the best measure to preventing its negative health effects. The highest quality reviews and meta-analyses support that there is little risk of lung cancer or mesothelioma at daily exposure levels below 0.1 f/ml.


Asbestos, Amphibole, Humans, Lung Neoplasms, Mesothelioma, Occupational Exposure, Risk Assessment

Included in

Public Health Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.