Diseases associated with asbestos are prevalent in the construction trades primarily as the result of the previously widespread use of insulation materials containing asbestos in the building industry. Workers in metal related trades, who are employed at construction sites, but who do not routinely use such materials in their work, may also be at risk for asbestos hazards. To assess such risk, a clinical survey was conducted on 869 ironworkers from the New York metropolitan area. A high prevalence of abnormalities on chest radiographs was found. Three hundred and twenty nine (38%) of the examined workers had pleural abnormalities on their chest radiographs consistent with asbestos induced effects. The prevalence of radiographic abnormalities indicating interstitial lung disease was low (7%) as was the prevalence of restrictive pulmonary function impairment (7%). Association was found between forced vital capacity (FVC) and pleural abnormalities on chest radiographs. Although ex-smokers appeared to have the highest prevalence of abnormalities, regression analyses showed that duration of employment in the ironworkers' trade was the most important factor associated with them.
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