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EPA Overestimates Lung Cancer Risk From Breathing Asbestos, Study Says

May 28, 1998

The Environmental Protection Agency is significantly overestimating the risk of lung cancer from small amounts of asbestos, a Canadian study concludes. Breathing asbestos fibers can cause a variety of lung diseases, but lung cancer is thought to be the greatest hazard.

Researchers from the University of Quebec assessed the risk of lung cancer in women who lived in Asbestos, Canada, and other asbestos-mining towns in Quebec and compared the data with that for women living in 60 other places in Quebec. Based on the amount of asbestos the women breathed, the team reports today in the New England Journal of Medicine, the EPA formula predicts double the normal risk of lung cancer. However, the Canadian team found they were no more likely than women living elsewhere to die from lung cancer.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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