Chest radiographs taken by a standard technique were obtained from 173 current employees (164 men, 9 women) of a vermiculite mine in Montana, from 80 of 110 past employees resident within 200 miles, and from 47 men from the same area without known exposure to dust. In 43 of the 80 and 24 of the 47 an earlier chest x ray film was retrieved from the hospital archives. All 367 films were assessed blind and independently by three experienced readers using the ILO 1980 classification. Median radiographic assessment scores were analysed in relation to estimated cumulative exposure to the amphibole fibres that contaminate the vermiculite. Logistic regression analyses showed independent effects of age, smoking, and exposure on the prevalence of small opacities and of age and probably of exposure on pleural thickening. Overall, the data suggest that by retirement age the increase in prevalence of small opacities (greater than or equal to 1/0) lies between 5% and 10% per 100 f/ml years. This gradient may be somewhat steeper than for chrysotile miners and millers, but not much so.
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