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2.  Radiographic abnormalities and mortality in subjects with exposure to crocidolite. 
Plain chest radiographs from a one in six random sample of the workforce of the asbestos industry at Wittenoom, Western Australia between 1943 and 1966 have been classified for degree of profusion and pleural thickening by two independent observers according to the 1980 UICC-ILO Classification of Radiographs for the pneumoconioses to clarify the effect of degree of radiological abnormality on survival. A total of 1106 subjects were selected. Each subject's age, cumulative exposure to crocidolite, and time since first exposure were determined from employment records, the results of a survey of airborne concentrations of fibres > 5 mu in length conducted in 1966, and an exposure rating by an industrial hygienist and an ex-manager of the mine and mill at Wittenoom. By the end of 1986 193 subjects had died. Conditional logistic regression was used to model the relative risk of death in five separate case-control analyses in which the outcomes were deaths from: (1) all causes, (2) malignant mesothelioma, (3) lung cancer, (4) asbestosis, and (5) other causes excluding cancer and asbestosis. Up to 20 controls per case were randomly chosen from all men of the same age who were not known to have died before the date of death of the index case. After adjustment for exposure and time since first exposure, there were significant and independent effects of radiographic profusion and pleural thickening on all cause mortality. The effect of profusion was largely a result of the effect on mortality from malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis but not lung cancer. The effect of pleural thickening was greatest on mortality from other causes, mainly ischaemic heart disease. This study has shown that degree of radiographic abnormality has an independent effect on mortality from malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and all causes even after allowing for the effects of age, degree of exposure, and time since first exposure.
PMCID: PMC1035519  PMID: 8217849
3.  Respiratory disease in non-smoking Western Australian goldminers. 
Respiratory symptoms, spirometry, and transfer factor were measured in 208 non-smoking Western Australian underground goldminers (mean age 32) to identify the presence of respiratory abnormalities resulting from underground work. These subjects were part of a larger group of 771 subjects attending for statutory periodic chest x ray examinations in the industry. They had worked underground for a median of three years. The prevalence odds ratios of bronchitis, dyspnoea, wheeze, and asthma all tended to be related to duration of underground employment, even after adjusting for age, those for wheeze and asthma reaching statistical significance. After adjusting for age and height the duration of employment also had a significant effect on TL/VA but not on FEV1, FVC, or TL. These changes are consistent with the presence of airway narrowing and non-specific lung fibrosis or emphysema in non-smoking underground goldminers.
PMCID: PMC1039321  PMID: 1463674
4.  Immune response to flour and dust mites in a United Kingdom bakery. 
In a study of 279 United Kingdom bakery workers a high prevalence of immunological response to storage mites was found. To determine whether this was the consequence of exposure to storage mites in bakery work, a population of salt packing workers was examined as a comparison group not at occupational risk of exposure to storage mites. Forty two per cent of both groups were atopic (had a positive skin prick response greater than negative controls to D pteronyssinus, grass pollen, or cat fur by 2 mm or more) and 33% had an immediate skin prick test response to at least one of four storage mites (L destructor, G domesticus, T putrescentiae, A Siro). A higher percentage of the salt packing workers than the bakery workers had a positive radioallergosorbent test (RAST) (greater than or equal to 0.35 PRU) to D pteronyssinus and to the four storage mites. Logistic regression analysis identified atopy as the most significant variable for a positive skin test and RAST response to storage mites in both groups of workers. RAST inhibition was used to analyse extracted area and personal air samples. Analysis of static area samples for aeroallergen showed immunological identity with flour but L destructor was found in only one of seven exposed filters. The concentration of airborne flour was related to exposure rank of perceived dustiness and gravimetric measurement of total dust. Nineteen out of 32 filters from workers in jobs with higher dust exposure (rank >/=6) had a level of > 10 microgram/m(3) flour whereas this concentrations was exceeded in only one of 23 filters from workers in low dust exposure (< rank 6). It is concluded that storage mites are not of special significance in allergic responses in bakery workers. The development of immunological (and airway) responsiveness to inhaled flour dust is increased in those exposed to higher concentrations of airborne allergen, which appears to be predominantly flour and not storage mites.
PMCID: PMC1039292  PMID: 1515350
5.  Smoking, exposure to crocidolite, and the incidence of lung cancer and asbestosis. 
In 1979 all former workers from the Wittenoom asbestos industry who could be traced to an address were sent a questionnaire to determine smoking history. Occupational exposure to crocidolite was known from employment records. Of 2928 questionnaires sent, satisfactory replies were received from 2400 men and 149 women. Eighty per cent of these had smoked at some time and 50% were still smoking. Since that time 40 cases of lung cancer and 66 cases of compensatable asbestosis have occurred in this cohort. The incidence of both lung cancer and asbestosis was greatest in those subjects with the highest levels of exposure to crocidolite and in ex-smokers. Statistical modelling of the joint effects of these exposures on the incidence of each disease indicated that crocidolite exposure multiplied the rates of lung cancer due to smoking and that smoking has no measurable effect on the rates of asbestosis. There was also some evidence that the incidence rate of lung cancer is falling with time.
PMCID: PMC1035388  PMID: 1648376
6.  The effects of nedocromil sodium on the response to grain dust in West Australian grain workers. 
Seasonal grain workers in Western Australia who develop respiratory symptoms after exposure to grain dust develop concomitant changes in lung function and bronchial responsiveness to methacholine. The mechanisms underlying these changes are not known. A detailed study was undertaken of seasonal grain workers in Western Australia to evaluate the effect of nedocromil sodium (Fisons, United Kingdom) on these changes to see if they could be prevented by this drug. Forty seven subjects participated. Symptoms and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) were recorded before the study and before, during, and after each working shift, and bronchial responsiveness to methacholine was measured at the beginning and end of the study. Twenty three subjects received nedocromil and 22 received a placebo in a double blind design; there was no difference in baseline characteristics between the two groups. At the end of the study, no differences were found between the nedocromil and placebo groups in the prevalence of symptoms or development of new symptoms during the study. The drug had no effect on changes in methacholine PD20 or FEV1. As in previous studies, new symptoms developing during the season were more common in atopic subjects and were associated with a fall in methacholine PD20. It is concluded that nedocromil has no effect on the development of new symptoms in grain workers. The mechanisms underlying these symptoms require further study.
PMCID: PMC1012028  PMID: 2171630
7.  Exposure to grain dust and changes in lung function. 
Respiratory symptoms and lung function were assessed in 41 seasonal grain handlers and related to duration of employment and level of exposure to grain dust. Ten public works department employees, not exposed to grain dust, were examined during the same period. Respiratory symptoms, forced expired volume in one second (FEV1), and bronchial responsiveness (dose of methacholine provoking a 20% fall in FEV1-PD20) were assessed before starting work and at weekly intervals during a period of employment lasting up to four weeks. Two atopic grainhandlers with pronounced bronchial hyperresponsiveness (PD20 less than 1 mumol) and a history of asthma withdrew from the study within two weeks because they developed severe asthma. Respiratory symptoms were more frequent and more often attributed to work in the grainhandlers than in the non-exposed subjects. In the grainhandlers the FEV1 decreased by a mean (95% confidence intervals) of 321 ml (198-444) (p less than 0.05) and the mean (95% confidence interval) PD20 decreased from 20.6 mumol (10.3-41.2) to 6.0 mumol (2.8-12.5) (p less than 0.05) after one week of work. Over the next three weeks the mean FEV1 returned towards the prestudy values. The mean PD20, however, remained significantly lower than the initial value. The mean FEV1 and PD20 did not change significantly in the non-exposed subjects. The frequency of symptoms and decreases in FEV1 were greater in grainhandlers when working in jobs where total exposure to dust was greater than 20 mg/m3 than when working in jobs where it was less than 10 mg/m3. The results indicate that occupational exposure to grain dust results in respiratory symptoms and changes in lung function, including increased airway responsiveness, within the first week of exposure to grain dust at work. These changes appear to be determined by the degree of dust exposure and suggest a direct effect of grain dust on the lung in these subjects.
PMCID: PMC1035209  PMID: 2383516
8.  Comparison of chest radiograph reading methods for assessing progress of pneumoconiosis over 10 years in Wittenoom crocidolite workers. 
Thirty three pairs of chest radiographs taken up to 10 years apart were obtained for 33 subjects suffering from asbestosis who had applied for compensation to the Pneumoconiosis Medical Board of Western Australia. Multiple films from the period before the first radiograph in each pair, from the intervening period between the two, and from the period subsequent to the second radiograph were also available and all films were read by two independent readers according to the 1980 ILO classification of pneumoconiosis. Films were read twice as side by side pairs ten years apart, twice as two separate randomly ordered films ten years apart, and once as part of the full series of all available chest radiographs on each subject to assess which method provided the best consistency (between reader variation) and repeatability (within reader variation). Judging by consistency, the full series method performed as well as either of the other methods when assessing radiographic changes and significantly better when assessing the level of profusion of small opacities. There was little to choose between the other two methods either judging by consistency or repeatability, which could not be estimated for the full series method. Use of all available films for a subject is recommended for assessing single films, as in a prevalence study, as well as for documenting change in a longitudinal study.
PMCID: PMC1035114  PMID: 2155650
9.  Respiratory symptoms, lung function, and sensitisation to flour in a British bakery. 
A survey of dust exposure, respiratory symptoms, lung function, and response to skin prick tests was conducted in a modern British bakery. Of the 318 bakery employees, 279 (88%) took part. Jobs were ranked from 0 to 10 by perceived dustiness and this ranking correlated well with total dust concentration measured in 79 personal dust samples. Nine samples had concentrations greater than 10 mg/m3, the exposure limit for nuisance dust. All participants completed a self administered questionnaire on symptoms and their relation to work. FEV1 and FVC were measured by a dry wedge spirometer and bronchial reactivity to methacholine was estimated. Skin prick tests were performed with three common allergens and with 11 allergens likely to be found in bakery dust, including mites and moulds. Of the participants in the main exposure group, 35% reported chest symptoms which in 13% were work related. The corresponding figures for nasal symptoms were 38% and 19%. Symptoms, lung function, bronchial reactivity, and response to skin prick tests were related to current or past exposure to dust using logistic or linear regression analysis as appropriate. Exposure rank was significantly associated with most of the response variables studied. The study shows that respiratory symptoms and sensitisation are common, even in a modern bakery.
PMCID: PMC1009839  PMID: 2789967
10.  Cancer mortality in relation to measures of occupational exposure to crocidolite at Wittenoom Gorge in Western Australia. 
The separate and combined effects of duration and intensity of exposure to crocidolite on mortality from lung cancer, malignant mesothelioma, and stomach cancer were examined in 6506 male former crocidolite miners and millers at Wittenoom Gorge, Western Australia. Each subject who had died from lung cancer (92), mesothelioma (31), or stomach cancer (17) was matched with up to 20 control subjects of the same age who were not known to have died before the index subject. Relations of dose and time of exposure to crocidolite to risk of death were modelled by conditional logistic regression. For lung cancer, the best fitting multiplicative model was one which estimated a relative risk (RR) of 1.12 (95% CI 1.04-1.20) per year of exposure and 1.01 (95% CI 1.00-1.01) per fibre/ml. This was statistically indistinguishable from an additive model showing an increase in RR of 0.01045 (95% CI 0.008-0.020) per f/ml year. For mesothelioma the best fitting model appeared to be one estimating a RR of 24.9 (95% CI 3.51-1.77) per log year since first exposed and a RR of 10.5 (95% CI 3.12-35.1) if exposed for longer than six months. This was not distinguishable statistically from a model that showed mortality increasing as the fourth power of time since first exposed less the fourth power of time since last exposed. The effect of intensity of exposure on the RR for mesothelioma was only slight. There was no consistent effect of any measure of exposure to crocidolite on death from stomach cancer.
PMCID: PMC1009822  PMID: 2550048
11.  Natural history of pleural thickening after exposure to crocidolite. 
Serial plain chest radiographs of 384 men who worked at the Wittenoom crocidolite mine and mill between 1943 and 1966 and who applied for pneumoconiosis compensation between 1948 and 1982 have been examined independently by two trained observers for pleural disease using the 1980 ILO-UICC classification of radiographs to record width and extent of pleural disease. Radiographs covering follow up periods of from two to 38 years were examined (median number of films per subject was nine). The degree of crocidolite exposure was estimated from employment records and a survey of airborne fibre concentrations performed in 1966. Agreement between the observers on the presence and degree of pleural disease in the final film for each subject was moderately close (Kendall's tau B = 0.62) and was least for subjects with thickening less than 5 mm in width. Diffuse pleural thickening extending for greater than 50% of the lateral chest wall was the most common type recorded by both observers. Minor pleural thickening frequently progressed in extent along the lateral chest wall but progression beyond 5 mm in thickness was less common. Pleural plaques were not seen to progress beyond their initial thickness or extent. The rate of onset of thickening in this population increased continually from the time of first exposure and also increased slightly with age. There was evidence that the level of total cumulative exposure to crocidolite increased the rate of onset of pleural thickening in the period between five and 15 years after first exposure. Rate of progression of established thickening was greatest in subjects who first developed thickening early after first exposure. The relative rate of progression decreased slowly with time from first signs of thickening and there was no evidence of any progression more than 15 years after onset.
PMCID: PMC1009809  PMID: 2548564
12.  Occupational asthma in a mineral analysis laboratory. 
An epidemic of symptoms suggestive of occupational asthma in workers in a mineral analysis laboratory necessitating exposure to vapours of hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, nitric, perchloric, and sulphuric acid solutions was investigated. Variable airflow obstruction was confirmed by serial measurement of FEV1 in two subjects who showed 18% and 22% fall in FEV1 during a workshift. Of a workforce of 21 laboratory staff, 20 took part in a study of ventilatory capacity and bronchial reactivity. All but one subject had normal ventilatory capacity but five had bronchial hyperreactivity (PC20 less than or equal to 8 mg/ml histamine). Four of the five with hyperreactivity had a history of chest tightness at work whereas only two subjects with chest tightness had PC20 greater than 8 mg/ml (p less than 0.01). Other work related symptoms were cough (two subjects) and breathlessness (three subjects). Four of the subjects with bronchial hyperreactivity were atopic, suggesting that hyperreactivity may have predated exposure to irritant material at work and resulted in their being susceptible to the development of symptoms and raises the possibility of identifying susceptible subjects by preplacement examination. In two of these subjects, however, bronchial reactivity has returned to normal after 205 and 376 days away from work, suggesting that bronchial inflammation resulted from occupational exposure to acid vapours.
PMCID: PMC1009616  PMID: 3395574
13.  Pulmonary disease from exposure to an artificial aluminium silicate: further observations. 
A cross sectional analysis of the relation between exposure to an artificial aluminium silicate (alunite residue) and pulmonary function changes has been made in 32 subjects, 17 of whom had been previously reported and in whom there was suggestive evidence of a dose response relation between gas transfer and total silicate exposure. Longitudinal data were also available for nine subjects. No dose effect relation was observed in either analysis and only one of the three subjects previously observed to have an abnormal chest radiograph (the index subject) had deteriorated appreciably. Respirable particles of alunite residue were injected intratracheally into Syrian hamsters. No evidence of pulmonary toxicity was seen as judged by bronchoalveolar lavage measurements of the concentrations lactic dehydrogenase, albumin, and the lambda fraction of gold, and the numbers of macrophages, polymorphonuclear cells, and red blood cells (alpha-quartz and ferrous oxide were used as positive and negative controls). These results do not support a significant toxic effect of this aluminium silicate on the lungs.
PMCID: PMC1007984  PMID: 3259893
14.  Mortality in miners and millers of crocidolite in Western Australia. 
It is known that 6505 men and 411 women were employed in the mining and milling of crocidolite at Wittenoom in the Pilbara region of Western Australia between 1943 and 1966. Employment was usually brief (median duration four months) and exposure intense (median estimated cumulative exposure 6 fibres/cc years). The vital status of 73% of the men and 58% of the women employed in the industry was known at 31 December 1980, providing 95 264 person-years of follow up with 820 deaths in men and 4914 person-years with 23 deaths in women. The standardised mortality ratio (SMR) for all causes in men was 1.53 (95% confidence interval 1.43 to 1.64). Statistically significant excess death rates were observed in men for neoplasms, particularly malignant mesothelioma (32 deaths), neoplasms of the trachea, bronchus, and lung (SMR 2.64), and neoplasms of the stomach (SMR 1.90); respiratory diseases, particularly pneumoconiosis (SMR 25.5); infections, particularly tuberculosis (SMR 4.09); mental disorders particularly alcoholism (SMR 4.87); digestive diseases, particularly peptic ulceration (SMR 2.46) and cirrhosis of the liver (SMR 3.94); and injuries and poisonings, particularly non-transport accidents (SMR 2.36). The excess mortality from pneumoconiosis, malignant mesothelioma, and respiratory cancers, but not stomach neoplasms, was dependent on time since first exposure and cumulative exposure. There was no increase in mortality from laryngeal cancer (SMR 1.09) or neoplasms other than those listed. The SMR for all causes in women was 1.47 (95% confidence interval 0.98-2.21) and for neoplasms 1.99; there was one death from malignant pleural mesothelioma.
PMCID: PMC1007937  PMID: 2829959
15.  Symptoms and longitudinal changes in lung function in young seasonal grain handlers. 
A total of 119 seasonal grain handlers (mean age 23) were assessed before and towards the end (mean work period 18 days) of the 1983 Western Australian grain harvest to determine if respiratory symptoms that occur with exposure to grain dust are associated with changes in ventilatory capacity or non-specific bronchial reactivity to methacholine. Eighteen per cent of subjects had wheeze, breathlessness, or chest tightness and 18% had cough or sputum production at work. Subjects complaining of wheeze, chest tightness, or breathlessness at work had a significantly greater decline in FEV1 than subjects who did not experience these symptoms (p less than 0.05). Symptoms were not associated with changes in bronchial reactivity. In young grain handlers who develop respiratory symptoms on short term exposure to grain dust changes in FEV1 but not in non-specific bronchial reactivity have been demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1007716  PMID: 3756108
16.  Prevalence of radiographic asbestosis in crocidolite miners and millers at Wittenoom, Western Australia. 
An estimate has been made of the prevalence of unrecognised pneumoconiosis in former crocidolite workers from Wittenoom, Western Australia. All plain chest radiographs relating to a one in six random sample (1025 men) of all former Wittenoom workers who had never entered a compensation claim to the Pneumoconiosis Medical Board of Western Australia were sought from Perth teaching hospitals and from the Perth Chest Clinic where compulsory examination of all workers in the mining industry takes place. Radiographs were recovered for 83% of the men and read independently by two observers. By means of logistic regression analysis a current prevalence of parenchymal abnormality (defined as a radiographic profusion of small opacities of category 1/0 or greater on the ILO classification) of nearly 20% was calculated after adjustment for age, time since first exposure, and cumulative exposure level. One hundred men randomly selected from those known to be alive in the sample were invited to attend for a new radiographic examination. Seventy four men attended and the predicted prevalence was confirmed. It is estimated from these data that there were between 450 and 900 former Wittenoom workers in Australia at the end of 1980 who had radiographic abnormality consistent with pneumoconiosis but had not claimed compensation or had asbestosis diagnosed. The data are consistent with there being no threshold dose of crocidolite exposure for the development of radiographic abnormality in this group.
PMCID: PMC1007684  PMID: 3013280
17.  Atopy, non-allergic bronchial reactivity, and past history as determinants of work related symptoms in seasonal grain handlers. 
One hundred and five young subjects with little or no previous exposure to grain dust were studied before and after a seven week period of grain handling work to determine if there was an association between symptoms experienced at work and pre-employment respiratory symptoms, allergy skin test responses, and non-allergic bronchial reactivity. The incidence of work related symptoms was cough 18%, wheeze 13%, and dyspnoea 14%. The results showed that pre-employment history of respiratory symptoms, positive allergy skin test responses, and a high level of non-allergic bronchial reactivity were significantly associated with these symptoms. These measurements may be useful to predict symptoms associated with exposure to grain dust in new employees and the results suggest that these work related symptoms may be due to allergen induced asthma.
PMCID: PMC1007670  PMID: 3718884
18.  Compensation, radiographic changes, and survival in applicants for asbestosis compensation. 
The survival of 354 claimants for compensation for pulmonary asbestosis among former workers of the Wittenoom crocidolite mine and mill in Western Australia has been examined. There were 118 deaths up to December 1982. The median time between start of work and claim for compensation was 17 years. The standardised mortality ratio (SMR) for deaths from all causes was 2.65 (p less than 0.0001). The SMR for pneumoconiosis was 177.2 (p less than 0.0001), bronchitis and emphysema 2.6 (p = 0.04), tuberculosis 44.6 (p less than 0.0001), respiratory cancer (including five deaths from malignant pleural mesothelioma) 6.4 (p less than 0.0001), gastrointestinal cancer 1.6 (p = 0.22), all other cancers 1.6 (p = 0.17), heart disease 1.4 (p = 0.07), and all other causes 2.18 (p = 0.004). Plain chest radiographs taken within two years of claiming compensation were found for 238 subjects and were categorised independently by two observers according to the International Labour Organisation criteria without knowledge of exposure or compensation details. Profusion of radiographic opacities, age at claiming compensation, work in the Wittenoom mill, and degree of disability awarded by the pneumoconiosis medical board were significant predictors of survival, but total estimated exposure to asbestos was not. Radiographic profusion and degree of disability were, however, predictable by total exposure. The median survival from claim for compensation was 17 years in subjects with ILO category 1 pneumoconiosis, 12 years in category 2, and three years in category 3.
PMCID: PMC1007510  PMID: 2990524
19.  Wheat flour sensitisation and airways disease in urban bakers. 
A total of 176 bakers and 24 subjects employed as bread slicers and wrappers were studied to examine the effect of occupational category on respiratory symptoms, ventilatory capacity, non-specific bronchial reactivity, and prick skin test responses to wheat and common allergens. Bakers had a greater prevalence of attacks of wheeze and dyspnoea and more frequently considered that work affected their chests than did slicers and wrappers. Bakers with a history of asthma with onset since starting work in a bakery had a greater prevalence of chronic cough and sputum, increased bronchial reactivity, and positive prick skin test responses to wheat and common allergens than other bakers. There was a significant association between the frequency of positive prick skin tests to wheat and common allergens, suggesting that prior atopy facilitates sensitisation to cereal antigens. The frequency of positive prick skin responses to common allergens, however, declined with increasing baking duration whereas the frequency of positive skin responses to wheat increased with increasing baking duration, suggesting that subjects who were sensitised to common allergens were leaving the industry whereas subjects who stayed in the industry increased their risk of developing sensitisation to wheat. Oven handlers had a greater prevalence of attacks of wheeze and dyspnoea and more frequently considered that work affected their chests than either dough makers or general bakers. They also had a greater prevalence of positive prick skin test responses to wheat than dough makers or general bakers. Oven handlers also had a lower mean standardised casual FEV1 than either general bakers or dough makers. Thus oven handlers appear to have a greater risk of developing respiratory allergy and airflow obstruction than bakers in other occupational categories.
PMCID: PMC1009368  PMID: 6498109
20.  Relationship between type of simple coalworkers' pneumoconiosis and lung function. A nine-year follow-up study of subjects with small rounded opacities. 
One hundred and twenty-five men who were identified in 1968 as having the simple pneumoconiosis of coalworkers were re-examined nine years later when their mean age was 59.6 years. On both occasions the lung function and response to exercise were assessed. There was no evidence for progression of simple pneumoconiosis between the surveys, but 14 had developed small irregular opacities on their chest radiographs and 28 showed early changes of progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). After allowing for the effects of smoking and of exposure to coal dust, subjects with both p and r types of simple pneumoconiosis exhibited a reduced transfer factor compared with subjects having q-type opacities; subjects with r-type opacities also showed an increased pulmonary elastic recoil pressure. The presence of irregular opacities, independent of rounded opacities, was associated with a low transfer factor and decreased slope of phase III of the single breath oxygen test. Subjects who developed PMF between 1968 and 1978 had p or r opacities more often than q opacities: these subjects had an increase pulmonary elastic recoil pressure. The development of PMF was also associated with physiological evidence of airways obstruction. The changes in subjects with r opacities are consistent with the presence of space occupying lesions that may progress to PMF. Subjects with p opacities have physiological evidence of emphysema as do some subjects with established PMF. Irregular opacities may reflect the presence of both emphysema and diffuse fibrosis. There is need for more morbid anatomical evidence on the underlying pathology.
PMCID: PMC1069280  PMID: 7317293
21.  Pulmonary disease from occupational exposure to an artificial aluminium silicate used for cat litter. 
All available workers engaged in bagging an artificial crystalline aluminium silicate--the kiln-dried residue from the calcining and water extraction of alunite (a hydrated sulphate of aluminium and potassium) that is currently classified as a nuisance dust--were studied after a complaint of respiratory and systemic symptoms, including arthritis, by an employee of the factory, who showed physiological and radiographic evidence of diffuse pulmonary fibrosis and in whom lung biopsy showed diffuse fibrosis with granulomas. Inhalation challenge produced a transient decrease in transfer factor and transfer factor standardised for alveolar volume. Twenty-five subjects were known to have been exposed at some time to the dust of alunite-residue. Of the 17 who could be contacted, all agreed to attend for respiratory questionnaire and occupational history, pulmonary function testing (spirometry, lung volumes, gas transfer), and posteroanterior chest radiograph. Six subjects considered that occupational exposure to the dust was responsible for respiratory symptoms. Three subjects had abnormality of the chest radiograph consistent with pulmonary fibrosis. The mean percentage of predicted transfer factor standardised for effective alveolar volume was 71.1% in subjects with abnormal chest radiographs and 86.6% in subjects with normal radiographs (p = 0.10). There was a trend in the correlation between the percentage of predicted transfer factor standardised for effective alveolar volume and total dust exposure (sum of the products of grade of severity of each exposure period and duration of each exposure period in months) (r = 0.40 p = 0.10). This study suggests that there may be a relation between inhalation of the dust of this form of aluminium silicate and pulmonary fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC1008753  PMID: 7448131
22.  Pulmonary function in firefighters: acute changes in ventilatory capacity and their correlates. 
A group of 39 firefighters was examined during routine firefighing duty. Following smoke exposure the average decrease in one-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1.0) was 0.05 litre (137 observations). This decline in FEV1.0 was related to the severity of smoke exposure as estimated by the firefighter and to the measured particulate concentration of the smoke to which he was exposed. Decreases in FEV1.0 in excess of 0.10 litre were recorded in 30% of observations. Changes in FEV1.0 resulting from a second exposure to smoke on the same tour of duty were greater when smoke exposure at the previous fire was heavy. The repeated episodes of irritation of the bronchial tree that have been documented in this investigation may explain the origin of the previously observed chronic effect of firefighting on respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function.
PMCID: PMC1008489  PMID: 444439
23.  Mortality among Boston firefighters, 1915--1975. 
Although the nature of firefighting involves particular health hazards, previous mortality and morbidity studies of firemen have produced inconsistent evidence for an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer and accidents. Mortality experience since 1915 has been examined in 5655 Boston firefighters, comprising all male members of the city fire department with three or more years of service. The observed cause of death as stated on the death certificates of 2470 deceased firefighters has been compared with the numbers expected based on rates for the male population of Massachusetts and of the United States of America. Among all firefighters, deaths from all causes were 91% of expected. The standardised mortality ratio (SMR) was markedly reduced (less than 50) for infectious disease, diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, chronic nephritis, blood diseases and suicide. The SMR was 86 for cardiovascular deaths, 83 for neoplastic deaths, and 93 for respiratory deaths. The SMR for accidents was 135 for active firefighters. The results suggest that the survival experience of firefighters is strongly influenced by strict entry selection procedures, ethnic derivation, and sociocultural attributes of membership. While excessive morbidity has been demonstrated in firefighters, there does not appear to be a strong association between occupation and cause-specific mortality.
PMCID: PMC1008362  PMID: 656333
24.  Loss of pulmonary elastic recoil in workers formerly exposed to proteolytic enzyme (alcalase) in the detergent industry. 
Sixty-seven workers in the detergent industry whose exposure to proteolytic enzyme ceased in 1969 have been examined clinically and functionally. By comparison with 42 lightly and moderately exposed subjects, 13 heavily exposed subjects showed significant loss of pulmonary elastic recoil as evidenced by increased lung volumes and increased pulmonary compliance, but there were no differences in airways resistance or other parameters of lung function. No difference was found between the two groups in relation to symptoms on exposure, current exercise tolerance, skin reactivity to the proteolytic enzyme alcalase, trypsin inhibitor capacity, and other features. An increased clinical grade of breathlessness was associated with evidence of airways obstruction, but not of altered elastic recoil. Comparison of the data on lung mechanics with results obtained in 1970 suggests that partial recovery of pulmonary elastic recoil may have occurred in some cases. It is also suggested that diminished elastic recoil, in the absence of impairment of transfer factor at rest, may reflect altered physical properties of the lung fibre network without loss of effective surface area available for gas exchange.
PMCID: PMC1008129  PMID: 963000

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