Serum type III procollagen peptide (PIIIP) concentrations were determined in 36 male workers exposed to asbestos fibres in the production of asbestos cement items and in 13 healthy male controls. Mean (SD) PIIIP serum concentrations were 9.3 (1.5) ng/ml (range 7-12) in the controls and 13.7 (3.5)ng/ml (range 7.5-20) in the asbestos workers; the difference was statistically significant (p less than 0.01). The exposed workers were subdivided according to presence or absence of radiological signs of asbestosis and intensity and duration of exposure. PIIIP serum values of workers with asbestos related interstitial fibrosis were the highest of the groups at 14.6 (2.3) ng/ml. In workers with heavy exposure the PIIIP values were significantly related to duration of exposure (r = 0.95; p less than 0.01). PIIIP serum values may be a useful index for the early diagnosis of asbestos induced pulmonary fibrosis and its use should be considered as part of the biological monitoring of exposed workers.
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