A four year follow up of the ventilatory function in former asbestos cement workers has been performed to determine whether any further decrease occurred after cessation of exposure. Seventy five of 125 subjects were eligible for re-examination and were compared with local referents. None showed signs of asbestosis but 32% had pleural plaques at the renewed examination. Cumulative asbestos exposure calculated as fibre x years had been estimated individually in the original examination. After adjustment for age, height, tracheal area, and smoking category the FVC and FEV1 for all exposed subjects were on average 7% v 6% less than predicted from the referents and twice as much for the subjects with the highest exposure. The four year declines in FVC and FEV1 were larger than in the referents, significantly so for FEV1. There were no significant correlations between pleural plaque and ventilatory function after adjustment for exposure. Thus the age adjusted reduction in ventilatory function had progressed during the follow up period despite the cessation of exposure and the lack of radiological signs of asbestosis.
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