In a pilot study the chest radiographic appearances of 112 coalminers who developed progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) over an 11 year period have been classified into six types based on the appearances of the large radiographic opacities. The most common type of PMF was one or more large shadows of homogeneous radiodensity. Less common types included markedly rounded shadows usually less than 3 cm in diameter, non-homogeneous shadows appearing to consist of conglomerations of small rounded opacities, and condensations of linear or streaky shadows. Good reproducibility by one reader between two readings were obtained. The lifetime exposures to mixed respirable coal mine dust, and to its quartz component, of these 112 men were compared with those of control subjects matched for age and starting category of simple pneumoconiosis but without PMF. Overall, the men with PMF had been exposed to more mixed dust than controls, confirming that one of the reasons some men with simple pneumoconiosis develop PMF is that they have inhaled more dust than others. Eleven of the 112 cases had large opacities that were not homogeneous and appeared to consist of conglomerations of "r" type small rounded opacities. The average quartz exposures of these men were much higher than in control subjects, suggesting that in this type of PMF quartz was an important causative factor.
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