Mesothelioma Among Brake Mechanics: An Expanded Analysis of a Case-Control Study


*Address correspondence to Patrick A. Hessel, Ph.D., Exponent, 185 Hansen Ct., Ste. 100, Wood Dale, IL 60191, USA;


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun discussions to consider its assessment of asbestos toxicity related to mineral form and fiber size. Brake workers are typically exposed to short chrysotile fibers. To explore the mesothelioma risk among brake workers, considering other occupational exposures to asbestos, data from a study that was published previously were obtained and the analysis was extended. The National Cancer Institute provided data from a case-control study of mesothelioma. Because many participants with a history of brake work also had employment in other asbestos-related occupations, mesothelioma cases and controls were compared for a history of brake work, controlling for employment in eight occupations with potential asbestos exposure. A stratified analysis was also performed excluding those with any of the eight occupations. Possible interactions between brake work and other occupational exposures related to risk of mesothelioma were also examined. The odds ratio (OR) for employment in brake installation or repair was 0.71 (95% CI: 0.30–1.60) when controlled for insulation or shipbuilding. When a history of employment in any of the eight occupations with potential asbestos exposure was controlled, the OR was 0.82 (95% CI: 0.36–1.80). ORs did not increase with increasing duration of brake work. Exclusion of those with any of the eight exposures resulted in an OR of 0.62 (95% CI: 0.01–4.71) for occupational brake work. There was no evidence of an interaction between brake work and other occupational exposures. These latter analyses were based on small numbers of exposed cases. The results are consistent with the existing literature indicating that brake work does not increase the risk of mesothelioma and adds to the evidence that fiber type and size are important determinants of mesothelioma risk.