OBJECTIVES: To determine predictors of progression of pleural and parenchymal disease on the chest radiographs of workers exposed to a short term, intense exposure of amosite asbestos. METHODS: The first and last of a series of chest radiographs of 887 workers exposed to amosite was interpreted and coded according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards by two physicians. Significant predictors of disease progression were found by a linear stepwise regression analysis from among such variables as smoking history, latency (time since first exposure), duration and intensity of exposure, and cytology. RESULTS: Although most radiographs remained normal, some showed progression of disease with about twice as many patients with abnormalities on the last film. Various combinations of age, intensity of exposure, and time between films were significant predictors of pleural and parenchymal disease and progression of such disease. No predominance of one sided disease was noted. Cytology and smoking were unreliable predictors of disease. Most disease progression was minor, usually of less than two scoring categories. CONCLUSION: An intense, yet short, exposure to amosite asbestos can produce pleural and parenchymal changes on chest radiographs. The number of those affected roughly doubled over a period spanning 10 to 20 years after exposure. Age and intensity of exposure are the most important predictors of disease.
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