Two series of surgically removed and unselected necropsy lungs were examined for asbestos bodies. In the series from Southampton (UK) 30-mu sections were used and in the Wellington (New Zealand) series a modified Gold's digestion method was used for all cases, together with 30-mu sections for some. A further series of Southampton lungs was assessed by Gold's method six years after the initial study. The 30-mu section technique found asbestos bodies in 13% of Southampton men and none in women: the corresponding Wellington figures were 8% for men and nil for women. In Wellington the more sensitive digestion method found asbestos bodies in 78% of men and 63% of women. In Southampton the investigation by Gold's method found asbestos bodies in 83% of men and 74% of women. No statistically significant association was found between the number of asbestos bodies and the various types of lung carcinoma. The prevalence of asbestos in lungs removed between 1956 and 1965 did not differ significantly from its prevalence in those removed in the late 1970's. There was no significant increase in asbestos after the age of 20.
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