The lungs of 50 symptom free workers exposed to amosite and with normal pulmonary function tests were examined by high resolution computed tomography (HRCT). Twenty five had normal standard chest radiographs whereas the other 25 had radiographs interpreted as near normal (International Labour Office profusion score < 0/1 or suspected pleural plaques). In 13 of the workers the results of HRCT were negative; in 22 pleural plaques were found, in five there was only parenchymal involvement, and 10 had both pleural and parenchymal changes. The mean duration of exposure to amosite was significantly longer for the subjects with parenchymal signs than for those with normal parenchyma and for the workers with pleural plaques than for those with normal pleura and lung parenchyma. The prevalence of identified pleural and parenchymal abnormalities in the 50 workers was also significantly higher than in a reference group without exposure to asbestos. It is concluded that HRCT may detect initial lung and pleural involvement in symptom free workers exposed to amosite and the mean duration of exposure is longer for subjects with parenchymal or pleural involvement.
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