In the absence of adequate preventive measures the manufacture of carbon electrodes is attended by a considerable dust hazard. The present paper is based on a study of the clinical, radiological, and pathological changes resulting from inhalation of this dust, which is derived from crushed coke and anthracite.
An account is given of the findings in a clinical survey of 15 men who had been employed for at least 10 years in manufacturing carbon electrodes. Four of these men were suffering from complicated and five from simple pneumoconiosis.
In addition, the findings in three necropsied cases (two complicated and one simple) are recorded in detail. Bacteriological examination of the lungs and analysis of the lung dust was carried out in the two cases of complicated pneumoconiosis.
It is shown that carbon electrode makers may develop simple pneumoconiosis with focal emphysema and that this may complicated by the development of massive fibrotic lesions. Both the simple and the complicated pneumoconiosis are indistinguishable from the corresponding conditions in other coalworkers.
Quartz was almost entirely absent from the lung dust of the two necropsied cases with massive fibrosis and in one of these cases virulent tubercle bacilli were shown. The significance of these findings is discussed in relation to the aetiology of progressive massive fibrosis. While it is evident that they are incompatible with the “silica” theory they provide some limited support for the “tuberculosis” theory.