What is asbestosis?
Asbestosis is scarring and stiffening of lung tissue caused by inhalation of asbestos fibres.
- Asbestos fibres (all types)
- Asbestos-like fibres
Asbestos exposure is the only known risk factor for asbestosis. Workers within occupations with exposure to asbestos fibres are at an increased risk of this disease. Construction workers, such as insulators, electricians, and plumbers are several occupations that have experienced high rates of this condition. Metal workers and platers and boilermakers are also at an increased risk of asbestosis.
The greatest risks of asbestosis were observed among workers employed in the construction, education services, and some manufacturing industries.
The construction industry and trades occupations require workers to handle insulation or work in close proximity to insulation. Occupations that may put workers into contact with asbestos include insulators, electricians, and plumbers. The ODSS detected increased risks of asbestosis among home-related building and repairing occupations that may be exposed to asbestos in the work environment.
- Insulators: 26 times the risk
- Pipefitters and plumbers: 8 times the risk
- Electricians and repairmen: 3 times the risk
Within the metal manufacturing industry, workers are required to operate machinery including boilerplates, furnaces, and other heating apparatuses. Asbestos was commonly used as an insulating material in metalworking machinery. When these materials are disturbed or degrade asbestos fibres are released into the air.
- Boilermakers: 10 times risk
- Iron and steel mills: 2.7 times the risk
- Primary metal workers: 2.3 times the risk
Education and Related Services
Workers within the education and related services sector include not only teachers and administrative staff, but also custodial workers. These workers are possibly exposed to asbestos that was installed as insulation, tiling and other materials in older schools, especially during building maintenance and repair. As asbestos-containing materials degrade, fibres can become airborne and pose a health risk to staff.
- Education and related services: 1.7 times the risk
Relative Risk by Industry and Occupation
Figure 1. Risk of asbestosis diagnosis among workers employed in each industry group relative to all others, Occupational Disease Surveillance System (ODSS), 1999-2016
Figure 2. Risk of asbestosis diagnosis among workers employed in each occupation group relative to all others, Occupational Disease Surveillance System (ODSS), 1999-2016
Table of Results
|SIC Code *||Industry Group||Number of cases||Number of workers employed||Hazard Ratio (95% CI) †|
|2/3||Forestry, Fishing and Trapping||<5||7,857||—|
|4||Mines, Quarries and Oil Wells||13||18,210||0.99 (0.57, 1.71)|
|5||Manufacturing||243||565,700||0.93 (0.80, 1.10)|
|6||Construction||153||175,617||2.36 (1.97, 2.84)|
|7||Transportation, Communication and Other Utilities||66||165,930||0.95 (0.73, 1.22)|
|8||Trade||52||357,376||0.47 (0.35, 0.62)|
|9||Finance, Insurance and Real Estate||11||19,414||1.31 (0.72, 2.37)|
|10||Community, Business and Personal Service||98||483,986||0.87 (0.70, 1.09)|
|11||Public Administration and Defense||63||157,922||0.96 (0.74, 1.24)|
|* SIC: Standard Industrial Classification (1970)|
|† Hazard ratio in each group relative to all others|
Table 2. Surveillance of Asbestosis: Number of cases, workers employed, and hazard ratios in each occupation (CCDO) group
|CCDO Code *||Occupation Group||Number of cases||Number of workers employed||Hazard Ratio (95% CI) †|
|11||Managerial, administrative and related||5||26,772||0.65 (0.27, 1.57)|
|21||Natural sciences, engineering and mathematics||8||22,785||0.94 (0.47, 1.89)|
|23||Social sciences and related fields||5||24,939||1.63 (0.67, 3.95)|
|27||Teaching and related||8||41,692||1.07 (0.53, 2.15)|
|31||Medicine and health||10||108,759||0.67 (0.35, 1.27)|
|33||Artistic, literary, recreational and related||<5||12,729|
|41||Clerical and related||23||162,132||0.52 (0.34, 0.78)|
|51||Sales||22||123,283||0.89 (0.58, 1.36)|
|61||Service||62||298,287||0.67 (0.51, 0.87)|
|71||Farming, horticultural and animal husbandry||5||40,974||0.39 (0.16, 0.94)|
|73||Fishing, hunting, trapping and related||0||463||—|
|75||Forestry and logging||0||7,730||—|
|77||Mining and quarrying, including oil and gas field||6||10,079||0.86 (0.38, 1.92)|
|81||Processing (mineral, metal, chemical)||37||67,239||1.45 (1.04, 2.02)|
|82||Processing (food, wood, textile)||18||81,535||0.65 (0.41, 1.04)|
|83||Machining and related||76||161,878||0.99 (0.78, 1.26)|
|85||Product fabricating, assembling and repairing||107||276,755||0.84 (0.68, 1.03)|
|87||Construction trades||230||181,331||3.52 (2.99, 4.15)|
|91||Transport equipment operating||40||143,836||0.58 (0.42, 0.80)|
|93||Materials handling and related, not elsewhere classified||19||128,517||0.40 (0.25, 0.62)|
|95||Other crafts and equipment operating||10||23,406||0.90 (0.48, 1.68)|
|99||Other occupations not elsewhere classified||55||180,646||0.81 (0.61, 1.07)|
|* CCDO: Canadian Classification Dictionary of Occupations (1971)|
|† Hazard ratio in each group relative to all others|
Figure 1. Crude incidence rate of asbestosis among males in the ODSS, 2000-2014 (n=1.76 million)
Figure 2. Age-standardized incidence rate of asbestosis among males in the ODSS, 2000-2014 (n=1.76 million)
Please note that ODSS results shown here may differ from those previously published or presented. This may occur due to changes in case definitions, methodological approaches, and the ongoing nature of the surveillance cohort.