Sufficiently high and prolonged inhalation exposures to some respirable elongated mineral particles (REMPs), notably including amphibole asbestos fibers, can increase risk of inflammation-mediated diseases including malignant mesothelioma, pleural diseases, fibrosis, and lung cancer. Chronic inflammation involves ongoing activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which enables immune cells to produce potent proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) (in particular, mitochondrial ROS) contribute to NRLP3 activation via a well-elucidated mechanism involving oxidation of reduced thioredoxin and association of thioredoxin-interacting protein with NLRP3. Lysosomal destabilization, efflux of cytosolic potassium ions and influx of calcium ions, signals from damaged mitochondria, both translational and post-translational controls, and prion-like polymerization have increasingly clear roles in regulating NLRP3 activation. As the molecular biology of inflammation-mediated responses to REMP exposure becomes clearer, a practical question looms: What do these mechanisms imply for the shape of the dose-response function relating exposure concentrations and durations for EMPs to risk of pathological responses? Dose-response thresholds or threshold-like nonlinearities can arise from (a) Cooperativity in assembly of supramolecular signaling complexes; (b) Positive feedback loops and bistability in regulatory networks; (c) Overwhelming of defensive barriers maintaining homeostasis; and (d) Damage thresholds, as in lysosome destabilization-induced activation of NLRP3. Each of these mechanisms holds for NLRP3 activation in response to stimuli such as REMP exposures. It is therefore timely to consider the implications of these advances in biological understanding for human health risk assessment with dose-response thresholds. Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.