Mass miniature radiography surveys in a factory producing artificial grinding wheels detected cases of pneumoconiosis, mostly of the silicotic type. All cases were traced to the department where the so-called “bond” is prepared and mixed with the abrasive grains of carborundum and artificial corundum. This ceramic-vitrified bond, similar in composition to English general earthenware, contained until recently a significant proportion of free silica.
The miniature film survey was followed up by an investigation on full-sized films, in which 92% of all workers in the bond department participated. The radiographs were subjected to dual independent viewing and it was found that 66% of the men who had worked in the bond department for more than 10 years showed radiological evidence of pneumoconiosis with a high proportion of progressive massive fibrosis (P.M.F.)
Recently the amount of free silica in the ceramic bond has been reduced by the introduction of “frits” in place of powdered flint and part of the factory has been rebuilt and new methods of dust suppression and dust extraction have been introduced. One of the cases presented with the rheumatoid-pneumoconiotic syndrome, first described by Caplan.
It is suggested that some of the cases of pneumoconiosis, attributed to carborundum, may be due to the binding materials of artificial grinding wheels.
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