Chest radiographs were read from a sub-cohort of 386 factory workers with short term exposure to amosite asbestos (median exposure six months) and long follow up (median 25 years). Prevalence of abnormality was determined independently by two readers from the first film available after 20 years from first employment. Serial films were obtainable for 238 men (median interval from first to last film: nine years). Progression was classified with a direct progression scoring scale. Individual dust exposure estimates were derived from dust counts from two similar plants. With as little as one month or less of employment, about 20% of the films showed parenchymal abnormality and about a third showed pleural abnormality. Those in the lowest cumulative exposure stratum (less than 5 fibre-years/ml) were similarly found to have high rates of abnormality. Dose-response relations were present in the data of both readers. Smokers had higher rates of parenchymal abnormality. On multivariate analysis, cumulative exposure was the exposure variable most closely related to parenchymal abnormality, and time from first employment was the variable most closely related to pleural abnormality. Progression (including first attacks) 20 or more years after ceasing employment occurred and was more common for pleural than for parenchymal abnormality. It is concluded that with exposure to high concentrations to amosite such as existed in this factory and with follow up for at least 20 years, (1) exposure for as little as a month was sufficient to produce radiological signs of parenchymal and pleural fibrosis, (2) no cumulative exposure threshold for parenchymal and pleural fibrosis was detectable, and (3) parenchymal and pleural progression were still detectable >/= 20 years after the end of exposure.
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