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Journal Articles Environmental Health Perspectives Year : 2011

Pleural Mesothelioma in New Caledonia: Associations with Environmental Risk Factors


Background: High incidences of malignant mesothelioma (MM) have been observed in New Caledonia. Previous work has shown an association between MM and soil containing serpentinite. Objectives: We studied the spatial and temporal variation of MM and its association with environmental factors. Methods: We investigated the 109 MM cases recorded in the Cancer Registry of New Caledonia between 1984 and 2008 and performed spatial, temporal, and space-time cluster analyses. We conducted an ecological analysis involving 100 tribes over a large area including those with the highest incidence rates. Associations with environmental factors were assessed using logistic and Poisson regression analyses. Results: The highest incidence was observed in the Houaïlou area with a world age-standardized rate of 128.7 per 100,000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI), 70.41-137.84]. A significant spatial cluster grouped 18 tribes (31 observed cases vs. 8 expected cases; p = 0.001), but no significant temporal clusters were identified. The ecological analyses identified serpentinite on roads as the greatest environmental risk factor (odds ratio = 495.0; 95% CI, 46.2-4679.7; multivariate incidence rate ratio = 13.0; 95% CI, 10.2-16.6). The risk increased with serpentinite surface, proximity to serpentinite quarries and distance to the peridotite massif. The association with serpentines was stronger than with amphiboles. Living on a slope and close to dense vegetation appeared protective. The use of whitewash, previously suggested to be a risk factor, was not associated with MM incidence. Conclusions: Presence of serpentinite on roads is a major environmental risk factor for mesothelioma in New Caledonia.

Dates and versions

hal-00663670 , version 1 (27-01-2012)



Francine Baumann, Pierre Maurizot, Morgan Mangeas, Jean-Paul Ambrosi, Jeroen Douwes. Pleural Mesothelioma in New Caledonia: Associations with Environmental Risk Factors. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011, 119, pp.695-700. ⟨10.1289/ehp.1002862⟩. ⟨hal-00663670⟩
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