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1.  Nanoparticles: Health Effects—Pros and Cons 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2006;114(12):1818-1825.
With the advent of nanotechnology, the prospects for using engineered nanomaterials with diameters of < 100 nm in industrial applications, medical imaging, disease diagnoses, drug delivery, cancer treatment, gene therapy, and other areas have progressed rapidly. The potential for nanoparticles (NPs) in these areas is infinite, with novel new applications constantly being explored. The possible toxic health effects of these NPs associated with human exposure are unknown. Many fine particles generally considered “nuisance dusts” are likely to acquire unique surface properties when engineered to nanosize and may exhibit toxic biological effects. Consequently, the nuisance dust may be transported to distant sites and could induce adverse health effects. In addition the beneficial uses of NPs in drug delivery, cancer treatment, and gene therapy may cause unintentional human exposure. Because of our lack of knowledge about the health effects associated with NP exposure, we have an ethical duty to take precautionary measures regarding their use. In this review we highlight the possible toxic human health effects that can result from exposure to ultrafine particles (UFPs) generated by anthropogenic activities and their cardiopulmonary outcomes. The comparability of engineered NPs to UFPs suggests that the human health effects are likely to be similar. Therefore, it is prudent to elucidate their toxicologic effect to minimize occupational and environmental exposure. Highlighting the human health outcomes caused by UFPs is not intended to give a lesser importance to either the unprecedented technologic and industrial rewards of the nanotechnology or their beneficial human uses.
PMCID: PMC1764161  PMID: 17185269
cons; nanoparticle toxicity; nanotechnology; pros
2.  Neurotoxic Potential of Lunar and Martian Dust: Influence on Em, Proton Gradient, Active Transport, and Binding of Glutamate in Rat Brain Nerve Terminals 
Astrobiology  2013;13(8):679-692.
The harmful effects of lunar dust (LD) on directly exposed tissues are documented in the literature, whereas researchers are only recently beginning to consider its effects on indirectly exposed tissues. During inhalation, nano-/microsized particles are efficiently deposited in nasal, tracheobronchial, and alveolar regions and transported to the central nervous system. The neurotoxic potential of LD and martian dust (MD) has not yet been assessed.
Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter involved in most aspects of normal brain function, whereas disturbances in glutamate homeostasis contribute to the pathogenesis of major neurological disorders. The research was focused on the analysis of the effects of LD/MD simulants (JSC-1a/JSC, derived from volcanic ash) on the key characteristics of glutamatergic neurotransmission. The average size of LD and MD particles (even minor fractions) before and after sonication was determined by dynamic light scattering. With the use of radiolabeled l-[14C]glutamate, it was shown that there is an increase in l-[14C]glutamate binding to isolated rat brain nerve terminals (synaptosomes) in low [Na+] media and at low temperature in the presence of LD. MD caused significantly lesser changes under the same conditions, whereas nanoparticles of magnetite had no effect at all. Fluorimetric experiments with potential-sensitive dye rhodamine 6G and pH-sensitive dye acridine orange showed that the potential of the plasma membrane of the nerve terminals and acidification of synaptic vesicles were not altered by LD/MD (and nanoparticles of magnetite).
Thus, the unique effect of LD to increase glutamate binding to the nerve terminals was shown. This can have deleterious effects on extracellular glutamate homeostasis in the central nervous system and cause alterations in the ambient level of glutamate, which is extremely important for proper synaptic transmission. During a long-term mission, a combination of constant irritation due to dust particles, inflammation, stress, low gravity and microgravity, radiation, UV, and so on may consequently change the effects of the dust and aggravate neurological consequences. Key Words: Lunar dust simulant—Martian dust simulant—Volcanic ash—Glutamate binding—Membrane potential—Synaptic vesicle acidification—Glutamatergic neurotransmission—Rat brain nerve terminals. Astrobiology 13, 679–692.
PMCID: PMC3746286  PMID: 23919751
3.  Long-Term Exposure to Silica Dust and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Chinese Workers: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001206.
A retro-prospective cohort study by Weihong Chen and colleagues provides new estimates for the risk of total and cause-specific mortality due to long-term silica dust exposure among Chinese workers.
Human exposure to silica dust is very common in both working and living environments. However, the potential long-term health effects have not been well established across different exposure situations.
Methods and Findings
We studied 74,040 workers who worked at 29 metal mines and pottery factories in China for 1 y or more between January 1, 1960, and December 31, 1974, with follow-up until December 31, 2003 (median follow-up of 33 y). We estimated the cumulative silica dust exposure (CDE) for each worker by linking work history to a job–exposure matrix. We calculated standardized mortality ratios for underlying causes of death based on Chinese national mortality rates. Hazard ratios (HRs) for selected causes of death associated with CDE were estimated using the Cox proportional hazards model. The population attributable risks were estimated based on the prevalence of workers with silica dust exposure and HRs. The number of deaths attributable to silica dust exposure among Chinese workers was then calculated using the population attributable risk and the national mortality rate. We observed 19,516 deaths during 2,306,428 person-years of follow-up. Mortality from all causes was higher among workers exposed to silica dust than among non-exposed workers (993 versus 551 per 100,000 person-years). We observed significant positive exposure–response relationships between CDE (measured in milligrams/cubic meter–years, i.e., the sum of silica dust concentrations multiplied by the years of silica exposure) and mortality from all causes (HR 1.026, 95% confidence interval 1.023–1.029), respiratory diseases (1.069, 1.064–1.074), respiratory tuberculosis (1.065, 1.059–1.071), and cardiovascular disease (1.031, 1.025–1.036). Significantly elevated standardized mortality ratios were observed for all causes (1.06, 95% confidence interval 1.01–1.11), ischemic heart disease (1.65, 1.35–1.99), and pneumoconiosis (11.01, 7.67–14.95) among workers exposed to respirable silica concentrations equal to or lower than 0.1 mg/m3. After adjustment for potential confounders, including smoking, silica dust exposure accounted for 15.2% of all deaths in this study. We estimated that 4.2% of deaths (231,104 cases) among Chinese workers were attributable to silica dust exposure. The limitations of this study included a lack of data on dietary patterns and leisure time physical activity, possible underestimation of silica dust exposure for individuals who worked at the mines/factories before 1950, and a small number of deaths (4.3%) where the cause of death was based on oral reports from relatives.
Long-term silica dust exposure was associated with substantially increased mortality among Chinese workers. The increased risk was observed not only for deaths due to respiratory diseases and lung cancer, but also for deaths due to cardiovascular disease.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Walk along most sandy beaches and you will be walking on millions of grains of crystalline silica, one of the commonest minerals on earth and a major ingredient in glass and in ceramic glazes. Silica is also used in the manufacture of building materials, in foundry castings, and for sandblasting, and respirable (breathable) crystalline silica particles are produced during quarrying and mining. Unfortunately, silica dust is not innocuous. Several serious diseases are associated with exposure to this dust, including silicosis (a chronic lung disease characterized by scarring and destruction of lung tissue), lung cancer, and pulmonary tuberculosis (a serious lung infection). Moreover, exposure to silica dust increases the risk of death (mortality). Worryingly, recent reports indicate that in the US and Europe, about 1.7 and 3.0 million people, respectively, are occupationally exposed to silica dust, figures that are dwarfed by the more than 23 million workers who are exposed in China. Occupational silica exposure, therefore, represents an important global public health concern.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the lung-related adverse health effects of exposure to silica dust have been extensively studied, silica-related health effects may not be limited to these diseases. For example, could silica dust particles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (diseases that affect the heart and circulation)? Other environmental particulates, such as the products of internal combustion engines, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but no one knows if the same is true for silica dust particles. Moreover, although it is clear that high levels of exposure to silica dust are dangerous, little is known about the adverse health effects of lower exposure levels. In this cohort study, the researchers examined the effect of long-term exposure to silica dust on the risk of all cause and cause-specific mortality in a large group (cohort) of Chinese workers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated the cumulative silica dust exposure for 74,040 workers at 29 metal mines and pottery factories from 1960 to 2003 from individual work histories and more than four million measurements of workplace dust concentrations, and collected health and mortality data for all the workers. Death from all causes was higher among workers exposed to silica dust than among non-exposed workers (993 versus 551 deaths per 100,000 person-years), and there was a positive exposure–response relationship between silica dust exposure and death from all causes, respiratory diseases, respiratory tuberculosis, and cardiovascular disease. For example, the hazard ratio for all cause death was 1.026 for every increase in cumulative silica dust exposure of 1 mg/m3-year; a hazard ratio is the incidence of an event in an exposed group divided by its incidence in an unexposed group. Notably, there was significantly increased mortality from all causes, ischemic heart disease, and silicosis among workers exposed to respirable silica concentrations at or below 0.1 mg/m3, the workplace exposure limit for silica dust set by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For example, the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for silicosis among people exposed to low levels of silica dust was 11.01; an SMR is the ratio of observed deaths in a cohort to expected deaths calculated from recorded deaths in the general population. Finally, the researchers used their data to estimate that, in 2008, 4.2% of deaths among industrial workers in China (231,104 deaths) were attributable to silica dust exposure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that long-term silica dust exposure is associated with substantially increased mortality among Chinese workers. They confirm that there is an exposure–response relationship between silica dust exposure and a heightened risk of death from respiratory diseases and lung cancer. That is, the risk of death from these diseases increases as exposure to silica dust increases. In addition, they show a significant relationship between silica dust exposure and death from cardiovascular diseases. Importantly, these findings suggest that even levels of silica dust that are considered safe increase the risk of death. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the accuracy of the silica dust exposure estimates and/or by confounding (other factors shared by the people exposed to silica such as diet may have affected their risk of death). Nevertheless, these findings highlight the need to tighten regulations on workplace dust control in China and elsewhere.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The American Lung Association provides information on silicosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on silica in the workplace, including links to relevant US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety publications, and information on silicosis and other pneumoconioses
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has detailed information on occupational exposure to crystalline silica
What does silicosis mean to you is a video provided by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration that includes personal experiences of silicosis; Dont let silica dust you is a video produced by the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics that identifies ways to reduce silica dust exposure in the workplace
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on silicosis (in English and Spanish)
The International Labour Organization provides information on health surveillance for those exposed to respirable crystalline silica
The World Health Organization has published a report about the health effects of crystalline silica and quartz
PMCID: PMC3328438  PMID: 22529751
4.  Ocular and nasal irritation in operatives in Lancashire cotton and synthetic fibre mills. 
OBJECTIVES--To document the prevalence of work related ocular (eyeWRI) and nasal (noseWRI) irritation in workers in spinning mills of cotton and synthetic textile fibres and to relate the prevalence of symptoms to atopy, byssinotic symptoms, work history, and measured dust concentrations in the personal breathing zone and work area. METHODS--A cross sectional study of 1048 cotton workers and 404 synthetic fibre workers was performed. A respiratory questionnaire was given to 1452 workers (95% of the total available population). Atopy was judged by skin prick tests to three common allergens. Work area cotton dust sampling (WAdust) was carried out according to EH25 guidelines in nine of the 11 spinning mills included in the study. Personal breathing zone dust concentrations were assessed with the IOM sampler to derive total dust exposure (PTdust) and a concentration calculated after the removal of fly (Pless). RESULTS--3.7% of all operatives complained of symptoms of byssinosis, 253 (17.5%) complained of eyeWRI and 165 (11%) of noseWRI. These symptoms did not relate to atopy or byssinosis, or correlate univariately with any measure of cotton dust exposure (noseWRI v WAdust r = 0.153, PTdust r = 0.118, eyeWRI v WAdust r = 0.029, PTdust r = 0.052). Both of these symptoms on logistic regression analysis were related to being of white origin (P < 0.001), female sex (P < 0.001), and younger age (P < 0.001). With regression analysis, there was a negative relation between dust concentration and prevalence of symptoms. CONCLUSION--Work related ocular and nasal irritation are the most common symptoms complained of by cotton textile workers. There was no relation between these symptoms and atopy, byssinosis, or dust concentration. It is likely that they relate to as yet unidentified agents unrelated to concentration of cotton dust.
PMCID: PMC1128098  PMID: 7849851
5.  Contact Eczema Caused by True Teak (Tectona Grandis) 
An epidemiological study of occupational contact eczema in a furniture factory is presented. The localization, distribution, and clinical features of the skin lesions were characteristic of contact eczema caused by a sensitizing or irritating dust. True teak—Tectona grandis—was the cause of the skin condition.
That teak is a fairly potent sensitizer and also contains primary irritants is fully confirmed by the present study. About half the employees who were heavily exposed to teak dust suffered from eczema and/or severe itching. Only 8% of those with slight exposure to teak dust experienced skin symptoms.
Patch tests with native teak dust moistened with water were applied on 10 “controls” and 112 workers who were exposed to teak in various working procedures. Moistened teak dust produced toxic reactions in 20·5%, while native teak dust did not have primary irritant effects and was, therefore, considered to be the substance of choice for patch testing; 18·7% of the workers showed an allergic skin reaction to native teak dust. The diagnosis of allergic contact eczema was made in 12·5%, and 6·2% were considered to have latent allergy. Primary irritant (contact) eczema was considered to be present in four individuals who had experienced acute, transitory, eczematous eruptions during the hot part of the summer when they perspired freely. In these cases the patch test to native teak dust was negative. Desensitization or “hardening” was observed in four workers. In most cases the skin lesions were not severe enough to cause sickness absence.
The cause of the relatively high percentage of sensitization to teak among the workers in the factory is discussed. The importance of suitable prophylactic measures is stressed.
PMCID: PMC1038129  PMID: 14459786
6.  Quantitative and Qualitative Microbiological Profiles of the Apollo 10 and 11 Spacecraft 
Applied Microbiology  1970;20(3):384-389.
Microbiological profiles were determined for surfaces of the command module, lunar module (ascent and descent stages), instrument unit, Saturn S-4B stage, and the spacecraft lunar module adapter of the Apollo 10 and 11 spacecraft. Average levels of contamination of the command module were 2.1 × 104 and 2.7 × 104 microorganisms per ft2 for Apollo 10 and 11, respectively. With the exception of the exterior surfaces of the ascent stage of the lunar module and the interior surfaces of the command module, average levels of microbial contamination on all components of the Apollo 11 were found to be lower than those observed on Apollo 10. For each Apollo mission, approximately 2,000 colonies were picked from a variety of media and identified. The results showed that approximately 95% of all isolates were those considered indigenous to humans; the remaining were associated with soil and dust in the environment. However, the ratio of these two general groups varied depending on the degrees of personnel density and environmental control associated with each module.
PMCID: PMC376944  PMID: 4394999
7.  Effect of Surface Plasma Treatments on the Adhesion of Mars JSC 1 Simulant Dust to RTV 655, RTV 615, and Sylgard 184 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e45719.
Dust accumulation on surfaces of critical instruments has been a major concern during lunar and Mars missions. Operation of instruments such as solar panels, chromatic calibration targets, as well as Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) suits has been severely compromised in the past as a result of dust accumulation and adhesion. Wind storms with wind speeds of up to 70 mph have not been effective in removing significant amounts of the deposited dust. This is indeed an indication of the strength of the adhesion force(s) involved between the dust particles and the surface(s) that they have adhered to. Complications associated with dust accumulation are more severe for non-conducting surfaces and have been the focus of this work.
Argon plasma treatment was investigated as a mechanism for lowering dust accumulation on non-conducting polymeric surfaces. Polymers chosen for this study include a popular variety of silicones routinely used for space and terrestrial applications namely RTV 655, RTV 615, and Sylgard 184. Surface properties including wettability, surface potential, and surface charge density were compared before and after plasma treatment and under different storage conditions. Effect of ultraviolet radiation on RTV 655 was also investigated and compared with the effect of Ar plasma treatment.
Gravimetric measurements proved Ar plasma treatment to be an effective method for eliminating dust adhesion to all three polymers after short periods of exposure. No physical damage was detected on any of the polymer surfaces after Ar plasma treatment. The surface potential of all three polymers remained zero up to three months post plasma exposure. Ultraviolet radiation however was not effective in reducing surface and caused damage and significant discoloration to RTV 655. Therefore, Ar plasma treatment can be an effective and non-destructive method for treating insulating polymeric surfaces in order to eliminate dust adhesion and accumulation.
PMCID: PMC3471900  PMID: 23077496
8.  Microbiological Profiles of Four Apollo Spacecraft 
Applied Microbiology  1973;26(6):838-845.
Selected surfaces from the Command Module, Lunar Module (ascent and descent stages), Instrument Unit, Saturn S-4B engine, and Spacecraft Lunar Module Adapter comprised the various components of four Apollo spacecraft which were assayed quantitatively and qualitatively for microorganisms. In addition, the first Lunar Roving Vehicle was assayed. Average levels of microbial contamination (104 per square foot of surface) on the Command Module, Instrument Unit, and Saturn S-4B engine were relatively consistent among spacecraft. The first postflight sampling of interior surfaces of the Command Module was possible due to elimination of the 21-day back-contamination quarantine period. Results of the pre- and postflight samples revealed increases in the postflight samples of 3 logs/inch2. A total of 5,862 microbial isolates was identified; 183 and 327 were obtained from the Command Module at preflight and postflight sampling periods, respectively. Although the results showed that the majority of microorganisms isolated were those considered to be indigenous to humans, an increase in organisms associated with soil and dust was noted with each successive Apollo spacecraft.
PMCID: PMC379918  PMID: 4148913
9.  Saharan Dust and Associations between Particulate Matter and Daily Mortality in Rome, Italy 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(10):1409-1414.
Background: Outbreaks of Saharan-Sahel dust over Euro-Mediterranean areas frequently induce exceedances of the Europen Union's 24-hr standard of 50 μg/m3 for particulate matter (PM) with aerodynamic diameter ≤ than 10 μm (PM10).
Objectives: We evaluated the effect of Saharan dust on the association between different PM fractions and daily mortality in Rome, Italy.
Methods: In a study of 80,423 adult residents who died in Rome between 2001 and 2004, we performed a time-series analysis to explore the effects of PM2.5, PM2.5–10, and PM10 on natural, cardiac, cerebrovascular, and respiratory mortality. We defined Saharan dust days by combining light detection and ranging (LIDAR) observations and analyses from operational models. We tested a Saharan dust–PM interaction term to evaluate the hypothesis that the effects of PM, especially coarse PM (PM2.5–10), on mortality would be enhanced on dust days.
Results: Interquartile range increases in PM2.5–10 (10.8 μg/m3) and PM10 (19.8 μg/m3) were associated with increased mortality due to natural, cardiac, cerebrovascular, and respiratory causes, with estimated effects ranging from 2.64% to 12.65% [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.18–25.42%] for the association between PM2.5–10 and respiratory mortality (0- to 5-day lag). Associations of PM2.5–10 with cardiac mortality were stronger on Saharan dust days (9.73%; 95% CI, 4.25–15.49%) than on dust-free days (0.86%; 95% CI, –2.47% to 4.31%; p = 0.005). Saharan dust days also modified associations between PM10 and cardiac mortality (9.55% increase; 95% CI, 3.81–15.61%; vs. dust-free days: 2.09%; 95% CI, –0.76% to 5.02%; p = 0.02).
Conclusions: We found evidence of effects of PM2.5–10 and PM10 on natural and cause-specific mortality, with stronger estimated effects on cardiac mortality during Saharan dust outbreaks. Toxicological and biological effects of particles from desert sources need to be further investigated and taken into account in air quality standards.
PMCID: PMC3230430  PMID: 21970945
air pollution; epidemiology; mortality; particulate matter; Saharan dust
10.  Wood Dust Sampling: Field Evaluation of Personal Samplers When Large Particles Are Present 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2010;55(2):180-191.
Recent recommendations for wood dust sampling include sampling according to the inhalable convention of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 7708 (1995) Air quality—particle size fraction definitions for health-related sampling. However, a specific sampling device is not mandated, and while several samplers have laboratory performance approaching theoretical for an ‘inhalable’ sampler, the best choice of sampler for wood dust is not clear. A side-by-side field study was considered the most practical test of samplers as laboratory performance tests consider overall performance based on a wider range of particle sizes than are commonly encountered in the wood products industry. Seven companies in the wood products industry of the Southeast USA (MS, KY, AL, and WV) participated in this study. The products included hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, door skins, shutter blinds, kitchen cabinets, plywood, and veneer. The samplers selected were 37-mm closed-face cassette with ACCU-CAP™, Button, CIP10-I, GSP, and Institute of Occupational Medicine. Approximately 30 of each possible pairwise combination of samplers were collected as personal sample sets. Paired samplers of the same type were used to calculate environmental variance that was then used to determine the number of pairs of samples necessary to detect any difference at a specified level of confidence. Total valid sample number was 888 (444 valid pairs). The mass concentration of wood dust ranged from 0.02 to 195 mg m−3. Geometric mean (geometric standard deviation) and arithmetic mean (standard deviation) of wood dust were 0.98 mg m−3 (3.06) and 2.12 mg m−3 (7.74), respectively. One percent of the samples exceeded 15 mg m−3, 6% exceeded 5 mg m−3, and 48% exceeded 1 mg m−3. The number of collected pairs is generally appropriate to detect a 35% difference when outliers (negative mass loadings) are removed. Statistical evaluation of the nonsimilar sampler pair results produced a finding of no significant difference between any pairing of sampler type. A practical consideration for sampling in the USA is that the ACCU-CAP™ is similar to the sampler currently used by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for purposes of demonstrating compliance with its permissible exposure limit for wood dust, which is the same as for Particles Not Otherwise Regulated, also known as inert dust or nuisance dust (Method PV2121).
PMCID: PMC3037778  PMID: 21036895
ACCU-CAP™; Button sampler; CIP10-I sampler; GSP sampler; inhalable sampling; IOM sampler; wood dust
11.  Cardiogenic mixing increases aerosol deposition in the human lung in the absence of gravity 
Acta astronautica  2012;92(1):15-20.
Exposure to extraterrestrial dusts is an almost inevitable consequence of any proposed planetary exploration. Previous studies in humans showed reduced deposition in low-gravity compared with normal gravity (1G). However, the reduced sedimentation means that fewer particles deposit in the airways, increasing the number of particles transported to the lung periphery where they eventually deposit albeit at a smaller rate than in 1G. In this study, we determined the role that gravity and other mechanisms such as cardiogenic mixing play in peripheral lung deposition during breath holds.
Eight healthy subjects inhaled boluses of 0.5 μm-diameter particles to penetration volumes (Vp) of 300 and 1200ml that were followed by breath holds of up to 10 sec. Tests were performed in 1G and during short periods of microgravity (μG) aboard the NASA Microgravity Research Aircraft. Aerosol deposition and dispersion were calculated from these data.
Results show that, for both Vp, deposition in 1G was significantly higher than in μG. In contrast, while dispersion was significantly higher in 1G compared to μG at Vp=1200ml, there was no significant gravitational effect on dispersion at Vp=300ml. Finally, for each G level and Vp, deposition and dispersion significantly increased with increasing breath-hold time.
The most important finding of this study is that, even in the absence of gravity, aerosol deposition in the lung periphery increased with increasing residence time. Because the particles used in this study were too large to be significantly affected by Brownian diffusion, the increase in deposition is likely due to cardiogenic motion effects.
PMCID: PMC3747654  PMID: 23976801
cardiogenic mixing; aerosol bolus; reduced gravity; planetary exploration; dust
12.  Respiratory disorders associated with heavy inhalation exposure to dolomite dust 
Although dolomite is classified as a relatively non-toxic, nuisance dust, little information exists as to its potential to produce respiratory disorders following occupational exposure. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to evaluate the possible effects, if any, of heavy inhalation exposure to this chemical on the prevalence of respiratory symptoms, functional impairments and radiographic abnormalities of the lungs.
The study population consisted of a group of 39 exposed subjects engaged in digging and excavating activities that were in operation for building a local dam, as well as 40 healthy non-exposed employees that served as the referent group. Subjects were interviewed and respiratory symptoms questionnaires, as suggested by the American Thoracic Society (ATS), were completed for them. Thereafter, they underwent chest X-ray and lung function tests. Additionally, using routine gravimetric techniques, personal dust monitoring for airborne inhalable and respirable dust was carried out at different dusty work sites. Finally to determine the chemical composition of the dust, it was analyzed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF) technique.
XRF revealed that the major component (50.52%) of the dust was calcium magnesium carbonate, dolomite. Additionally, levels of exposure to inhalable and respirable dust were estimated to be 51.7±24.31 and 23.0±18.11mg/m3, respectively. Statistical analysis of the data showed that symptoms such as regular cough, phlegm, wheezing, productive cough and shortness of breath were significantly (p<0.05) more prevalent among exposed workers. Similarly, the ratio of FEV1/FVC in exposed subjects was significantly different from that of non-exposed individuals. In contrast, no significant abnormalities were observed in the chest radiographs of both groups.
In conclusion, while these data cast doubt on the notion that dolomite is a harmless chemical, they provide evidence in favour of the proposition that exposure to high atmospheric concentrations of this compound is likely to be associated with respiratory symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3482327  PMID: 23115717
Dolomite dust; Occupational exposure; Respiratory symptoms; Functional impairments of the lungs
13.  A Clinical and Environmental Study of Byssinosis in the Lancashire Cotton Industry 
The prevalence of byssinosis was measured in a population of 189 male and 780 female workers employed in three coarse and two fine cotton mills. Ninety-eight per cent. of the male and 96% of the female population were seen.
The workers were graded by their histories as follows:
Grade 0—No symptoms of chest tightness or breathlessness on Mondays
Grade ½—Occasional chest tightness on Mondays, or mild symptoms such as irritation of the respiratory tract on Mondays
Grade 1—Chest tightness and/or breathlessness on Mondays only
Grade 2—Chest tightness and/or breathlessness on Mondays and other days
The dust concentrations to which the workers were exposed were measured with a dust-sampling instrument based on the hexhlet. Altogether 505 working places were sampled. In the card-rooms of the coarse mills 63% of the men and 48% of the women had symptoms of byssinosis. In the card-rooms of the fine mills the corresponding prevalences were 7% for the men, and 6% for the women. Prevalences were low in the spinning-rooms in the coarse mills. The mean dust concentrations in the different rooms ranged from 90 mg./100 m.3 in one section of the card-room in a fine mill, to 440 mg./100 m.3 in one of the card-rooms of the coarse spinning mills. The prevalence of byssinosis in the different rooms was closely related to the overall dustiness (r = 0·93). For the three main constituents of the dust, namely, cellulose, protein, and ash, the prevalence of byssinosis correlated most highly with protein, particularly with the protein in the medium-sized dust particles, i.e., approximately 7 microns to 2 mm.
The symptoms of byssinosis may be caused by something in the plant débris which affects the respiratory tract above the level of the terminal bronchioles. This is the site where the medium-sized dust deposits. The possible importance of the fine dust is discussed.
For routine measurements in industry, it is necessary to have a method of assessing dustiness in which the sampling equipment is simple and assessment rapid. As total dust concentration is relatively easy to measure, and correlates closely with the prevalence of byssinosis, permissible levels of dustiness have been expressed in terms of total dust. On comparing the prevalence of byssinosis among workers with short and long exposures and low and high concentrations (Table 11), it appears that a mill with a concentration of 100 mg./100 m.3 or less would be reasonably safe, but in dusty card-rooms it seems that such levels are not possible to achieve at present. As it is necessary to adopt a realistic target that can be achieved, it is suggested that dust concentrations in cotton mills should be less than 250 mg./100 m.3 and that periodic medical examinations should be adopted to protect susceptible workers who can be advised to leave their dusty environment before they are permanently disabled.
PMCID: PMC1039177  PMID: 14437722
14.  Airborne Fungal and Bacterial Components in PM1 Dust from Biofuel Plants 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2009;53(7):749-757.
Fungi grown in pure cultures produce DNA- or RNA-containing particles smaller than spore size (<1.5 μm). High exposures to fungi and bacteria are observed at biofuel plants. Airborne cultivable bacteria are often described to be present in clusters or associated with larger particles with an aerodynamic diameter (dae) of 2–8 μm. In this study, we investigate whether airborne fungal components smaller than spore size are present in bioaerosols in working areas at biofuel plants. Furthermore, we measure the exposure to bacteria and fungal components in airborne particulate matter (PM) with a D50 of 1 μm (called PM1 dust). PM1 was sampled using Triplex cyclones at a working area at 14 Danish biofuel plants. Millipore cassettes were used to sample ‘total dust’. The PM1 particles (29 samples) were analysed for content of 11 different components and the total dust was analysed for cultivable fungi, N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase (NAGase), and (1 → 3)-β-D-glucans. In the 29 PM1 samples, cultivable fungi were found in six samples and with a median concentration below detection level. Using microscopy, fungal spores were identified in 22 samples. The components NAGase and (1 → 3)-β-D-glucans, which are mainly associated with fungi, were present in all PM1 samples. Thermophilic actinomycetes were present in 23 of the 29 PM1 samples [average = 739 colony-forming units (CFU) m−3]. Cultivable and ‘total bacteria’ were found in average concentrations of, respectively, 249 CFU m−3 and 1.8 × 105 m−3. DNA- and RNA-containing particles of different lengths were counted by microscopy and revealed a high concentration of particles with a length of 0.5–1.5 μm and only few particles >1.5 μm. The number of cultivable fungi and β-glucan in the total dust correlated significantly with the number of DNA/RNA-containing particles with lengths of between 1.0 and 1.5 μm, with DNA/RNA-containing particles >1.5 μm, and with other fungal components in PM1 dust. Airborne β-glucan and NAGase were found in PM1 samples where no cultivable fungi were present, and β-glucan and NAGase were found in higher concentrations per fungal spore in PM1 dust than in total dust. This indicates that fungal particles smaller than fungal spore size are present in the air at the plants. Furthermore, many bacteria, including actinomycetes, were present in PM1 dust. Only 0.2% of the bacteria in PM1 dust were cultivable.
PMCID: PMC2758667  PMID: 19620231
actinomycetes; aerodynamic diameter of fungi; bacteria; bioaerosol; biofuel; exposure; inhalable dust; PM1 dust
15.  Evaluation of a Low-Cost Electrostatic Dust Fall Collector for Indoor Air Endotoxin Exposure Assessment▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2008;74(18):5621-5627.
Exposure to endotoxin in home environments has become a key issue in asthma and allergy research. Most studies have analyzed floor or mattress dust endotoxin, but its validity as a proxy for airborne exposure is unknown, while active airborne dust sampling is not feasible in large-scale population studies because of logistic and financial limitations. We therefore developed and evaluated a simple passive airborne dust collection method for airborne endotoxin exposure assessment. We explored an electrostatic dust fall collector (EDC), consisting of a 42- by 29.6-cm-sized folder with four electrostatic cloths exposed to the air. The EDC was tested during two 14-day periods in seven nonfarm and nine farm homes and in farm stables. In parallel, active airborne dust sampling was performed with Harvard impactors and floor dust collected by vacuuming, using nylon sampling socks. The endotoxin levels could be measured in all EDC cloth extracts. The levels (in EU/m2) between EDCs used simultaneously or in different sampling periods in the same home correlated strongly (r > 0.8). EDC endotoxin also correlated moderately to strongly (r = 0.6 to 0.8) with the endotoxin measured by active airborne dust sampling and living room floor dust sampling and—in farm homes—with the endotoxin captured by the EDC in stables. In contrast, endotoxin levels measured by floor dust sampling showed only a poor correlation with the levels measured by active airborne dust sampling. We therefore conclude that measuring endotoxin levels with the EDC is a valid measure of average airborne endotoxin exposure, while reproducibility over time is at least equivalent to that of reservoir dust analyses.
PMCID: PMC2547045  PMID: 18676704
16.  Occupational exposure in Parkinsonian disorders: A 43-year prospective cohort study in men 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2011;17(9):677-682.
Several occupations and occupational exposures have been investigated for associations with Parkinson’s disease. Common findings are increased risk associated with pesticide exposure and no association between Parkinson’s disease and welding.
We explored the association between a broad range of possible occupational risk factors and Parkinson’s disease as well as Parkinson’s disease plus other forms of parkinsonism (referred to as Parkinsonian disorders), using prospectively collected data in the population-based Swedish Twin Registry. A cohort of 14,169 Swedish men was followed for up to 43 years. We identified 234 Parkinsonian disorders cases including 204 Parkinson’s disease cases with complete data. We assessed exposure to 14 chemical and biological compounds through a job exposure matrix. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) adjusted for age, smoking, and education were used to estimate the relative risk of disease associated with exposure.
Exposure to inorganic dust was associated with increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonian disorders, HR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.4) and 1.5 (1.0–2.2) respectively. There was no association between Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonian disorders and occupational exposure to pesticides, welding smoke, metal dust, wood dust, animal handling, stone and concrete dust, chrome and nickel dust, quartz dust, organic dust, oil, asbestos, organic solvents and irritating gas.
Inorganic dust should be explored further as a potential risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. Occupational exposure to pesticides and twelve other compounds explored in this study may not be associated with risk of Parkinson’s disease in Swedish men.
PMCID: PMC3200471  PMID: 21733735
Parkinson disease; Occupational exposure; Prospective studies
17.  The London Underground: dust and hazards to health 
Aims: To assess hazards associated with exposure to dust in the London Underground railway and to provide an informed opinion on the risks to workers and the travelling public of exposure to tunnel dust.
Methods: Concentrations of dust, as mass (PM2.5) and particle number, were measured at different underground stations and in train cabs; its size and composition were analysed; likely maximal exposures of staff and passengers were estimated; and in vitro toxicological testing of sample dusts in comparison with other dusts was performed.
Results: Concentrations on station platforms were 270–480 µg/m3 PM2.5 and 14 000–29 000 particles/cm3. Cab concentrations over a shift averaged 130–200 µg/m3 and 17 000–23 000 particles/cm3. The dust comprised by mass approximately 67% iron oxide, 1–2% quartz, and traces of other metals, the residue being volatile matter. The finest particles are drawn underground from the surface while the coarser dust is generated by interaction of brakes, wheels, and rails. Taking account of durations of exposure, drivers and station staff would have maximum exposures of about 200 µg/m3 over eight hours; the occupational exposure standard for welding fume, as iron oxide, is 5 mg/m3 over an eight hour shift. Toxicology showed the dust to have cytotoxic and inflammatory potential at high doses, consistent with its composition largely of iron oxide.
Discussion: It is unjustifiable to compare PM2.5 exposure underground with that on the surface, since the adverse effects of iron oxide and combustion generated particles differ. Concentrations of ultrafine particles are lower and of coarser (PM2.5) particles higher underground than on the surface. The concentrations underground are well below allowable workplace concentrations for iron oxide and unlikely to represent a significant cumulative risk to the health of workers or commuters.
PMCID: PMC1741036  PMID: 15901881
18.  Conjugation of cell-penetrating peptides with poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)-polyethylene glycol nanoparticles improves ocular drug delivery 
In this work, a peptide for ocular delivery (POD) and human immunodeficiency virus transactivator were conjugated with biodegradable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PGLA)–polyethylene glycol (PEG)-nanoparticles (NPs) in an attempt to improve ocular drug bioavailability. The NPs were prepared by the solvent displacement method following two different pathways. One involved preparation of PLGA NPs followed by PEG and peptide conjugation (PLGA-NPs-PEG-peptide); the other involved self-assembly of PLGA-PEG and the PLGA-PEG-peptide copolymer followed by NP formulation. The conjugation of the PEG and the peptide was confirmed by a colorimetric test and proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Flurbiprofen was used as an example of an anti-inflammatory drug. The physicochemical properties of the resulting NPs (morphology, in vitro release, cell viability, and ocular tolerance) were studied. In vivo anti-inflammatory efficacy was assessed in rabbit eyes after topical instillation of sodium arachidonate. Of the formulations developed, the PLGA-PEG-POD NPs were the smaller particles and exhibited greater entrapment efficiency and more sustained release. The positive charge on the surface of these NPs, due to the conjugation with the positively charged peptide, facilitated penetration into the corneal epithelium, resulting in more effective prevention of ocular inflammation. The in vitro toxicity of the NPs developed was very low; no ocular irritation in vitro (hen’s egg test–chorioallantoic membrane assay) or in vivo (Draize test) was detected. Taken together, these data demonstrate that PLGA-PEG-POD NPs are promising vehicles for ocular drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC4315550
peptide for ocular delivery; flurbiprofen; controlled release; ocular tolerance; anti-inflammatory
19.  Respiratory health effects of carbon black: a survey of European carbon black workers. 
British Journal of Industrial Medicine  1993;50(12):1082-1096.
A study population of 3086 employees was identified in 18 carbon black production plants in seven European countries. Respiratory health questionnaires, spirometry, and chest radiographs were used to estimate effects on health and personal monitoring procedures were employed to measure current exposure to inspirable and respirable dust along with sulphur and carbon monoxide. The low concentrations of gaseous contaminants made the generation of their current and cumulative exposure indices impossible. Low responses from some plants restricted the final analysis to 1742 employees in 15 plants (81% response rate) for respiratory symptoms and spirometry, and 1096 chest radiographs from 10 plants (74% response rate). In total, 1298 respirable and 1317 inspirable dust samples, as well as 1301 sulphur dioxide and 1322 carbon monoxide samples were collected. This study is the first to include a comprehensive and concurrent assessment of occupational exposure to carbon black dust and its associated gaseous contaminants. Cough, sputum, and the symptoms of chronic bronchitis were found to be associated with increasing indices of current exposure. Lung function tests also showed small decreases in relation to increasing dust exposure in both smokers and non-smokers. Nearly 25% of the chest radiographs showed small opacities of category 0/1 or greater. These were strongly associated with indices of cumulative dust exposure. The findings are consistent with a non-irritant effect of carbon black dust on the airways combined with dust retention in the lungs. Further cross sectional studies are planned to investigate whether long term exposure to carbon black dust causes damage to the lung parenchyma.
PMCID: PMC1061331  PMID: 8280639
20.  Novel vehicle based on cubosomes for ophthalmic delivery of flurbiprofen with low irritancy and high bioavailability 
Acta Pharmacologica Sinica  2010;31(8):990-998.
To develop a novel vehicle based on cubosomes as an ophthalmic drug delivery system for flurbiprofen (FB) to reduce ocular irritancy and improve bioavailability.
FB-loaded cubosomes were prepared using hot and high-pressure homogenization. Cubosomes were then characterized by particle size, zeta potential, encapsulation efficiency, particle morphology, inner cubic structure and in vitro release. Corneal permeation was evaluated using modified Franz-type cells. Ocular irritation was then evaluated using both the Draize method and histological examination. The ocular pharmacokinetics of FB was determined using microdialysis.
The particle size of each cubosome formulation was about 150 nm. A bicontinuous cubic phase of cubic P-type was determined using cryo-transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) observation and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analysis. In vitro corneal permeation study revealed that FB formulated in cubosomes exhibited 2.5-fold (F1) and 2.0-fold (F2) increase in Papp compared with FB PBS. In the ocular irritation test, irritation scores for each group were less than 2, indicating that all formulations exhibited excellent ocular tolerance. Histological examination revealed that neither the structure nor the integrity of the cornea was visibly affected after incubation with FB cubosomes. The AUC of FB administered as FB cubosome F2 was 486.36±38.93 ng·mL−1·min·μg−1, which was significantly higher than that of FB Na eye drops (P<0.01). Compared with FB Na eye drops, the Tmax of FB cubosome F2 was about 1.6-fold higher and the MRT was also significantly longer (P<0.001).
This novel low-irritant vehicle based on cubosomes might be a promising system for effective ocular drug delivery.
PMCID: PMC4007820  PMID: 20686524
flurbiprofen; cubosomes; ocular drug delivery systems; corneal permeability; ocular irritation
21.  Performance of High Flow Rate Samplers for Respirable Particle Collection 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2010;54(6):697-709.
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial hygienists (ACGIH) lowered the threshold limit value (TLV) for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) exposure from 0.05 to 0.025 mg m−3 in 2006. For a working environment with an airborne dust concentration near this lowered TLV, the sample collected with current standard respirable aerosol samplers might not provide enough RCS for quantitative analysis. Adopting high flow rate sampling devices for respirable dust containing silica may provide a sufficient amount of RCS to be above the limit of quantification even for samples collected for less than full shift. The performances of three high flow rate respirable samplers (CIP10-R, GK2.69, and FSP10) have been evaluated in this study. Eleven different sizes of monodisperse aerosols of ammonium fluorescein were generated with a vibrating orifice aerosol generator in a calm air chamber in order to determine the sampling efficiency of each sampler. Aluminum oxide particles generated by a fluidized bed aerosol generator were used to test (i) the uniformity of a modified calm air chamber, (ii) the effect of loading on the sampling efficiency, and (iii) the performance of dust collection compared to lower flow rate cyclones in common use in the USA (10-mm nylon and Higgins–Dewell cyclones). The coefficient of variation for eight simultaneous samples in the modified calm air chamber ranged from 1.9 to 6.1% for triplicate measures of three different aerosols. The 50% cutoff size (50dae) of the high flow rate samplers operated at the flow rates recommended by manufacturers were determined as 4.7, 4.1, and 4.8 μm for CIP10-R, GK2.69, and FSP10, respectively. The mass concentration ratio of the high flow rate samplers to the low flow rate cyclones decreased with decreasing mass median aerodynamic diameter (MMAD) and high flow rate samplers collected more dust than low flow rate samplers by a range of 2–11 times based on gravimetric analysis. Dust loading inside the high flow rate samplers does not appear to affect the particle separation in either FSP10 or GK2.69. The high flow rate samplers overestimated compared to the International Standards Organization/Comité Européen de Normalisation/ACGIH respirable convention [up to 40% at large MMAD (27.5 μm)] and could provide overestimated exposure data with the current flow rates. However, both cyclones appeared to be able to provide relatively unbiased assessments of RCS when their flow rates were adjusted.
PMCID: PMC2918491  PMID: 20660144
calm air chamber; CIP10-R; FSP10; GK2.69; high flow rate sampler; respirable fraction; sampling efficiency
22.  Trichothecene mycotoxins in aerosolized conidia of Stachybotrys atra. 
Stachybotrys atra is the etiologic agent of stachybotryotoxicosis, and this fungus and its trichothecene mycotoxins were recently implicated in an outbreak of unexplained illness in homes. S. atra was grown on sterile rice, autoclaved, dried, and then aerosolized by acoustic vibration. The distribution of particles (mass and number) was monitored on an aerodynamic particle sizer interfaced with a computer. Dust was collected on preweighed glass-fiber filters and extracted with 90% aqueous methanol. Extracts were tested for the ability to inhibit protein synthesis in rat alveolar macrophages, the ability to inhibit the proliferation of mouse thymocytes, and the presence of specific trichothecene mycotoxins. Virtually all of the particles were less than 15 micron in aerodynamic diameter, and the mass median diameter was 5 micron. Thus, most of the particles were respirable. Microscopic analysis of the generated dust revealed that ca. 85% of the dust particles were conidia of S. atra, another 6% were hyphal fragments, and the remainder of the particles were unidentifiable. Thus, greater than 90% of the particles were of fungal origin. The extracts strongly inhibited protein synthesis and thymocyte proliferation. Purified satratoxin H was also highly toxic in the same systems. Each of the individual filters contained satratoxin H (average, 9.5 ng/mg of dust). Satratoxin G and trichoverrols A and B were found in lesser amounts in some, but not all, of the filters. The limit of analysis is ca. 50 ng. These results establish that the conidia of S. atra contain trichothecene mycotoxins. In view of the potent toxicity of the trichothecenes, the inhalation of aerosols containing high concentrations of these conidia could be a potential hazard to health.
PMCID: PMC203872  PMID: 3496850
23.  Respiratory and allergic symptoms in wool textile workers. 
An epidemiological study of 2153 workers in 15 West Yorkshire wool textile mills was conducted to determine relations between respiratory symptoms and exposure to inspirable wool mill dust. A questionnaire designed to elicit all the common respiratory symptoms was developed and tested, and administered to all workers willing to participate (85%). It was translated and administered in Urdu for the 385 workers from Pakistan whose English was not fluent. Symptoms investigated included cough and phlegm, wheezing and chest tightness, breathlessness and its variability, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, chills, nosebleeds, and chest illnesses. Additional questions were asked, where appropriate, about the times of day, days of the week, seasons, and places that the symptoms were worse or better than normal. An environmental survey was carried out at each mill, which included 629 measurements of inspirable dust, enabling estimates to be made of the airborne concentrations of inspirable dust usually experienced by each member of the workforce under current conditions. Overall symptom prevalences were: persistent cough and phlegm, 9%; wheeze, 31%; breathlessness on walking with others on level ground, 10%; persistent rhinitis, 18%; persistent conjunctivitis, 10%; persistent chills, 2%; ten or more nosebleeds a year, 2%; and three or more chest illnesses in past three years, 5%. After allowing for the effects of age, sex, smoking habit, and ethnic group, cough and phlegm, wheeze, breathlessness, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and nosebleeds were found to be more frequent in those exposed to higher than to lower concentrations of dust. In some experiencing high concentrations (blenders and carpet yarn backwinders) cough and phlegm, wheeze, rhinitis, and conjunctivitis were related to the years worked in such jobs. Relative risks of each symptom in relation to inspirable dust concentrations were calculated by means of a logistic regression analysis. At concentrations of 10 mg/m3, the current United Kingdom standard for nuisance dusts, the risk of cough and phlegm relative to that of an unexposed worker was 1.37, that of wheeze 1.40, breathlessness 1.48, rhinitis 1.24, and conjunctivitis 1.70. Since some of these symptoms may be associated with functional impairment of the lungs, further studies of selected workers are being carried out to estimate the functional effects of exposure to dust in wool textile mills.
PMCID: PMC1009690  PMID: 3264511
24.  Distribution of pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in house dust as a function of particle size. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1999;107(9):721-726.
House dust is a repository for environmental pollutants that may accumulate indoors from both internal and external sources over long periods of time. Dust and tracked-in soil accumulate most efficiently in carpets, and the pollutants associated with dust and soil may present an exposure risk to infants and toddlers, who spend significant portions of their time in contact with or in close proximity to the floor and who engage in frequent mouthing activities. The availability of carpet dust for exposure by transfer to the skin or by suspension into the air depends on particle size. In this study, a large sample of residential house dust was obtained from a commercial cleaning service whose clients were homeowners residing in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (Research Triangle) area of North Carolina. The composite dust was separated into seven size fractions ranging from < 4 to 500 microm in diameter, and each fraction was analyzed for 28 pesticides and 10 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Over 20% of the fractionated dust sample consisted of particles < 25 microm in diameter. Fourteen pesticides and all 10 of the target PAHs were detected in one or more of the seven size-fractionated samples. Sample concentrations reported range from 0.02 to 22 microg/g; the synthetic pyrethroids cis- and trans-permethrin were the most abundant pesticide residue. The concentrations of nearly all of the target analytes increased gradually with decreasing particle size for the larger particles, then increased dramatically for the two smallest particle sizes (4-25 microm and < 4 microm).
PMCID: PMC1566465  PMID: 10464072
25.  Pneumoconiosis after sericite inhalation 
Aims: To investigate and describe the radiological, clinical, and pathological changes in miners and millers exposed to sericite dust with mineralogical characteristics of inhaled dust.
Methods: The working premises were visited to examine the sericite processing and to classify the jobs according to make qualitative evaluation. Respirable dust was collected and the amount of crystalline silica and particle size distribution were measured. Forty four workers were examined by a standard questionnaire for respiratory symptoms, spirometry, and chest x ray. Material from an open lung biopsy was reviewed for histopathological and mineralogical analysis, together with sericite samples from the work site to compare the mineral characteristics in lung lesions and work area.
Results: Respirable dust contained 4.5–10.0% crystalline silica. Particle size distribution showed a heavy burden of very fine particles (23–55%) with a mean diameter of <0.5 µm. Mean age of sericite miners was 41.0 (11.9) and mean number of years of exposure was 13.5 (10.1). In 52.3% of workers (23/44), chest radiographs presented a median category of 1/0 or above, and 18.2% (8/44) had a reduced FEV1. There was a significant association between exposure indices and x ray category. Histological studies of the lung biopsy showed lesions compatible with mixed dust fibrosis with no silicotic nodules. x Ray diffraction analysis of the lung dust residue and the bulk samples collected from work area showed similar mineralogical characteristics. Muscovite and kaolinite were the major mineral particle inclusions in the lung.
Conclusion: Exposure to fine sericite particles is associated with the development of functional and radiological changes in workers inducing mixed dust lesions, which are distinct histologically from silicosis.
PMCID: PMC1740979  PMID: 15723874

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