A group of 137 male workers with known exposure (mean 20 fibre years per millilitre) to asbestos cement who had symptoms or signs of pulmonary disease was studied together with a reference group of 49 healthy industrial workers with no exposure to asbestos. Lung function measurements were made at rest and during exercise. Evidence of lung fibrosis was found as well as of obstructive airways disease in the exposed group compared with the reference group. Asbestos cement exposure was related to variables reflecting lung fibrosis but not to variables reflecting airflow obstruction. Smoking was related to variables reflecting obstructive lung disease. Exercise capacity was reduced in the exposed workers and was related to smoking and to lung function variables, reflecting obstructive airways disease. There was no significant correlation between exercise capacity and exposure to asbestos cement.
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