Mesothelioma associated with the shipbuilding industry in coastal Virginia
A case-control study was undertaken to clarify reasons for a four-fold increased incidence of mesothelioma discovered among white males in coastal Tidewater, Va., from 1972 to 1978. Sixty-one cases were identified. Interviews with next of kin revealed that the excess was linked to employment in area shipyards. Three-fourths of the cases had been employed in the shipbuilding industry, nearly all beginning employment prior to 1950. Most were career employees, but an increased risk was also found among those who worked only temporarily, mainly during World War II, and were reportedly exposed to asbestos. More of the cases than controls were pipecoverers or pipefitters, but cases were reported to work in a variety of shipyard trades. Few of the mesothelioma cases were heavy smokers, a trend that may be related in part to the competing risks for fatal diseases caused by the interactions of smoking and asbestos exposure. Information obtained by interview for five of the six white females diagnosed with mesothelioma revealed that the husband of four had been employed in the shipbuilding industry.