The dust content and composition of lesions and hilar lymph nodes from the lungs of British coalworkers have been examined. Samples of macules, fibrotic nodules, and massive fibrosis (both peripheral and central sites) were dissected from 49 lungs. The highest mean dust concentrations (about 20%) were found in nodules and massive fibrosis. Overall there were no significant differences between the selected lesion types and their respective whole lung dust composition, although the central sites of massive fibrosis were found to contain on average a higher proportion of coal and a lower proportion of ash and its measured constituents, quartz and kaolin plus mica, than the edge of the lesion (p less than 0.001 for each component). There were striking differences between recovered lung and lymph node dusts. An examination of 180 specimens showed a mean quartz in lymph node dust of 20.3% compared with 6.1% in lung dust. As expected the proportion of quartz was greater in lymph nodes and lungs from men who had worked "low" rank (high ash) coal. By contrast with the corresponding figures for lung dusts, however, the mean proportion of quartz in nodes did not increase over the pathological range of pneumoconiotic lung disease. On average the proportions of kaolin and mica in lymph nodes reflect those found in lungs. The lymphotrophic nature of quartz was clearly shown although it was not possible to show an association between this clearance pathway and any particular type of lesion.
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