A radiological survey of men employed in the china clay industry in Cornwall was carried out in 1977. Each man completed a short questionnaire on respiratory symptoms and smoking habits, his occupational history was determined, and his forced expiratory volume and vital capacity were measured. The radiographs were read independently by three observers, using the 1980 ILO classification. Of the 1728 men in the study, 23 had had dust exposure elsewhere, mostly in tin mining, and were excluded. Readings of the radiographs were available for 1676 men: 77.4% were within category 0, 17.9% in category 1, and 4.7% in categories 2 and 3. In 19 men (1.1%) one or more readers recorded the presence of a large shadow and read it as complicated pneumoconiosis, but in only four men were the readers unanimous. Every job recognised as dusty contributed significantly to the amount of simple pneumoconiosis, and in two jobs the conditions were such that the average worker would reach category 2 in a working lifetime. Smoking appeared unrelated to the radiographic appearance. Vital capacity showed a significant reduction with increasing amount of pneumoconiosis, but not, when this was allowed for, on the duration of exposure in any of the job categories. In addition it depended, as would be expected, on smoking. The effect of one category increase in pneumoconiosis was equivalent to 4.1 years of age in smokers, 3.9 years of age in ex-smokers, and 5.4 years of age in non-smoker. Forced expiratory volume did not decline significantly with amount of pneumoconiosis, so that FEV% VC showed an increase, though not to a significant extent. No extent. No relationship between symptoms and past exposure was detected.
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