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Occupational lung disease: an international perspective.

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    Occupational lung disease: an international perspective. Edited by: D E Banks, J E Parker. (Pp 528; £85). 1998. London: Chapman and Hall. ISBN 0412 736 306.

    This multi-author text book is divided into four parts. The introduction includes chapters on the world wide problem, lung function, occupational hygiene, compensation, and specific issues in South Africa and Brazil. The second and third parts consider the pneumoconioses and asthma, airway disease and alveolitis, and the fourth lung cancer. Many of the chapters provide useful summaries of current knowledge, including information not readily available elsewhere on, for example, man made fibres, metal exposures, and epidemic urban asthma. Much of the book, however, necessarily repeats what is available elsewhere.

    The overall structure is uneven, and the editors' laudable intention of including a truly international perspective is not really achieved. This is largely because in countries where such diseases are most prevalent good data do not exist. However, there are tantalising glimpses of quirky treatment and worker screening practices in several countries, and what we read about developing countries is sufficient to suggest that it will be a long time before the preventive lessons we have so painfully learned (but not always applied) in the rich world are applied elsewhere.

    This book continues the tradition of emphasising the mineral pneumoconioses but does give adequate weight to the main problem in the west, asthma. For a book with its expressed intention, it falls short on neoplasia and almost completely ignores mesothelioma. As this disease ranks second only to asthma in incidence and has risen on an epidemic curve, this is a curious omission.

    Would I have bought it? I already possess Parkes and another one I part-wrote/edited myself (interest declared!). This one contains information that is not to be found in either, but would probably not be regarded as so well structured or clinically oriented. It is generally sound where views are expressed, and contains much of interest. I do not have to decide, as I have been given a copy and I shall use it for reference. Readers are recommended to look at it and decide if it adds enough to their personal library to make it worth £85.