In a move watched closely by Manville Corp. and other insulation producers, scientists meeting in Lyons, France, voted earlier this week to designate certain man-made mineral fibers, including a common type of fiberglass used in construction, as possible cancer-causing agents.

After a week-long gathering, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization, said that three fiber types fall into a category in which there is "inadequate evidence" that they cause cancer in humans, but "sufficient evidence" that they cause cancer in experimental animals under some conditions.

The three fibers are glasswool, a fiberglass product used for thermal and sound insulation; mineral wool, another man-made fiber used in insulation; and refractory ceramic fiber, a specialty insulation product used especially in high-temperature applications.

Yet another man-made fiber -- continuous-filament fiberglass, which is widely used to reinforce plastics, fabrics, rubber and other materials -- received a cleaner bill of health from IARC. It was found to be "not classifiable" as a carcinogen.

Insulation industry officials were buoyed by the fact that IARC did not find sufficient evidence of a link between man-made mineral fibers and cancer in humans.

"The {IARC} rulings confirm that it's safe to manufacture and use fiberglass," said Don Ferguson, a Manville spokesman.

Ferguson said IARC relied more on studies in which fibers that were implanted in experimental animals produced tumors, than on evidence showing that the inhalation of fibers by animals -- a condition more resembling exposure by humans -- resulted in no tumors being formed.

Many scientists are advising that human exposure to man-made mineral fibers be limited to the stringent standard for exposure to asbestos, a proven carcinogen. Currently, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration classifies man-made mineral fibers, including fiberglass, as "nuisance dusts," with much higher levels of permissible exposure.

Last fall, preliminary results of a study of nearly 15,000 fiberglass manufacturing workers raised fears that exposure to the fiber might be responsible for a slightly elevated rise in lung cancer among the workers when compared to national cancer rates.

However, when the workers' lung cancer rates were compared with local cancer rates, University of Pittsburgh researcher Philip Enterline found no statistically significant increase.

Despite IARC's failure to link man-made mineral fibers directly with cancer in humans, the health group's findings are expected to shake up the man-made mineral fiber industry -- especially its $3 billion-a-year fiberglass segment -- in the United States.

IN THE BUSINESS . . . Smith/Artery, a joint venture of the Charles E. Smith Cos. and the Artery Organization, has proposed a mixed residential, retail, office and hotel development for the 54-acre Davis tract in the northeast corner of Rock Spring Park . . . Oxford Development Enterprises Inc., has broken ground for a $50 million, two-phase, 748-unit apartment complex called Bent Tree in Centreville . . . The Potowmack Development Group Inc., has started construction and renovation at the 299-unit Potomac Village apartment complex in the Arlandria section of Alexandria . . . Trammell Crow Residential Co. has broken ground at Chase Windsor, a 250-unit luxury apartment complex in Fair Lakes, and at The Chase at Bethesda, a 379-unit luxury high-rise apartment near the Bethesda Metrorail stop . . . Donohoe Construction Co. has broken ground on the American Health Care Association's new headquarters building at 1201 L St. in Northwest Washington and on the 107,000-square-foot Hillcrest Plaza Shopping Center in Frederick . . . GWF Mortgage Corp., which operates an office in McLean, has changed its name to Great Western Mortgage. The company is a subsidiary of Great Western Financial Corp. of Beverly Hills, Calif . . . The Oliver T. Carr Co. has officially opened the Village at Shirlington, a mixed-use development that will encompass more than 1.5 million square feet of office, retail, hotel and residential development when completed . . . Citicorp Real Estate, Inc., has committed $208 million in construction financing for Phase I of Techworld, the massive mixed-use development across from the D.C. Convention Center being development by International Developers Inc. . . . North Oak Professional Park Inc., a Block/Rozansky/Bonder development, broke ground for the North Oak Professional Park in Bowie. The complex will include a 40,000-square-foot medical building and 40,000-square-foot of office town houses . . . Hometown Properties of Herndon has merged with the Merrill Lynch Realty/Washington Co. . . . Oxford Development Corp. has formed a Real Estate Finance Origination Group within its mortgage and investment banking subsidiary to serve real estate developers by raising capital in various financial markets . . . Robert & Lloyd Inc., has acquired Regency Properties Inc. of Reston . . . The Suburban Maryland Building Industry Association gave its 1986 Buildability awards to Bill Crowell, vice president of Crowell & Baker, Bruce Winston, president of Allwin Building Corp., and Dwight Reynolds, vice president of The Artery Organization Inc. . . . International Developers Inc. has started construction on Ballston Metro Center, a $92 million mixed-use development that will include condominiums, a hotel, 193,000 square feet of office space, shops, restaurants and a health spa on land adjacent to the Ballston Metrorail stop . . . The Evans Co. announced plans to develop three new office buildings at Concourse Corporate Center, a new office park in Loudoun County that will have 315,000 square feet of office space . . . Costain Washington Inc. has been renamed Coscan Washington Inc. . . . The Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County has broken ground for an 83-unit town house community called Timberlawn of Tuckerman Lane in Montgomery County. Thirty percent of the units will be subsidized by the state of Maryland for low-income residents.

PERSONNEL FILE . . . Raymond M. Roberson has been named vice president of systems development for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. William K. Wilson has been named vice president of leasing for The Enterprise Development Co. . . . David L. Smith has been promoted to president and chief executive officer of Centennial Development Corp. and its sister corporation, Centennial Contractors . . . R. Brian Hepler had been named president and director of Firestone Corp. . . . The Calvert Cos. announced that Peter A. Lyons has been named vice president of Calvert Homes, Steven M. Robinson has been named vice president/commercial construction and Matthew F. Bensen has been named senior vice president for the Calvert Cos. . . . Jack P. Smith has been named president of Sequoia Management Co. Inc. . . . Julian W. Fore has been named vice president at GA/Partners Inc. . . . H. Kenneth Seeber has been named acting president of Home Owners Warranty Corp. . . . George M. Brady Jr., chairman of the National Corporation for Housing Partnerships, has been named 1987 Man of the Year by the National Housing Conference . . . The Federal National Mortgage Association has elected Samuel A. Alward executive vice president and named Hugh E. Flaherty senior vice president for corporate affairs . . . Boyd Van Ness has been named executive vice president and manager of Coldwell Banker's eastern division and Henry D. Allen has been named senior vice president and regional manager of Coldwell Banker's mid-Atlantic region, which includes the Washington area . . . Gregory R. Cox has been named vice president for community development for Kettler & Scott Inc. . . . Peter C. Forster has been named president of the George Hyman Construction Co. . . . Stephen A. Eckert has been named president of Porten Sullivan Corp. . . . Lavera Leonard has been appointed vice president for corporate affairs for the Home Builders Institute, the educational arm of the National Association of Home Builders . . . John T. Morgan has been elected the 1987-1988 chairman of the National Council of Savings Institutions . . . Ronnie J. Wynn has been nominated 1988 vice president for the Mortgage Bankers Association of America and Daniel J. Mulvihill has been nominated 1988 treasurer . . . John Vanden Broecke has been named chief executive officer and vice chairman of the board for Grandy Management Inc. and Kevin Grady has been appointed president . . . Mark J. Riedy has been named president and chief operating officer of the J.E. Robert Companies . . . The board of directors of the Federal National Mortgage Association has elected Larry H. Dale senior vice president for multifamily activities, G. William Knight president and general manager of the company's mortgage software division and Robert J. Sahadi vice president for mortgage-backed securities . . . Leo P. Natali has been named vice president and branch manager for the Bethesda office of First Chesapeake Mortgage Inc.