A retrospective cohort study is being conducted of cancer mortality in chrysotile asbestos miners and millers in the town of Asbest, Russian Federation. Chrysotile is the only type of asbestos that is still being mined today. The world’s largest open-pit chrysotile mine and its processing mills are located in Asbest, and this site currently produces approximately 20% of the world’s chrysotile.

The overall aim of the study is to more precisely characterize and quantify the exposure-response relationship for total and site-specific cancer risks associated with exposure to chrysotile asbestos. The cohort is currently being enumerated, and its expected size is approximately 30 000 workers. The study will combine work history and follow-up data to estimate and compare cancer mortality rates for groups of workers with different levels of exposure and for different time periods since first exposure.

The unique features of the study include its focus on the cancer risks of exposure to chrysotile asbestos alone, its large cohort size, the inclusion of women in the cohort, the long follow-up period, and the availability of detailed data about airborne dust concentrations.

This study is funded by the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation in the framework of the Federal Target Program "National System of Chemical and Biological Safety of the Russian Federation (2009-2014)".