Erionite: Non-Asbestos Cause of Malignant Mesothelioma

As more and more studies have been carried out to probe the causes of malignant mesothelioma, scientists have revealed that this cancerous illness may be caused by some factors other than the exposure to asbestos, which is the main cause of malignant mesothelioma. One of these additional triggering factors is erionite.

Considerable interest in the connection between erionite, which is a fibrous form of the zeolite group of minerals, began with the finding by a study carried out by Bariset al of high incidence of malignant mesothelioma in certain areas of Cappadocia in Turkey. The malignant mesothelioma could not be associated with the occupational and environmental exposures to asbestos in this area, yet instead it was found that the volcanic dusts and rocks present in the past contained fibrous zeolite, which was known as the erionite, which had a high percentage of inhalable fibers in it.

Erionite commonly occurs as a compact felt of tiny fibers with wooly appearance. It is possible that zeolite tuff was first used during the Roman times so as to build roads, houses, and sewage systems and thus, repeated exposures to erionite among the inhabitants of these villages has taken places, together with the associated diseases, presumably for a number of centuries.

Erionite fibers have been discovered in bronchoalveolar lavage liquids and lung tissues of people that are diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma as well as those of animal residents in the areas in this region.

Zeolite ferruginous bodies have been revealed in the sputa of inhabitants of these villages. In a study focusing on the experimental inhalation process on rats, Wagner et al were able to produce a high rate of malignant mesothelioma samples of erionite from Oregon and Turkey. Intraperitoneal and intrapleural injections of erionite in mice and rats have generated rates of malignant mesothelioma in excess of 90% with the amount if 0.5 or 1 mg. these rates are way higher than are those that were observed with the asbestos fibers. It has been postulated that the primary cause of the greater potency of erionite in comparison to asbestos fibers is the greater intrinsic surface area of erionite.

Several epidemiologic researches of these Cappadocian areas have evinced the rates of malignant mesothelioma about 1000-times the normal rate. As such, from clinical, epidemiological, pathologic, and experimental studies, it is reasonable to conclude that erionite fibers are carcinogenic and more dangerous than are asbestos with respect to induction of malignant mesothelioma.

The studies of Malignant mesothelioma, which was conducted in three Cappadocian villages, evinced higher rates of malignant mesothelioma within particular families s, which suggest that a genetic predisposition in spite of the same type of erionite being discovered in Cappadocian villages with or even without mesothelioma epidemic. But, the conclusions were apparently challenged and further investigation found strong link between malignant mesothelioma and the existence of erionite in stones that are used for construction of particular houses, which implies that the impact of genetic factors was at play, though it was rather coincidental.

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