Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1995;21(6):470-477    pdf

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.63 | Issue date: Dec 1995

Radiographic small lung opacities and pleural abnormalities as a consequence of asbestos exposure in an adult population

by Zitting AJ, Karjalainen A, Impivaara O, Tossavainen A, Kuusela T, Mäki J, Huuskonen MS

Objectives The purpose of this study was to estimate the role of past asbestos exposure as a cause of radiographic small lung opacities and pleural abnormalities in the Finnish adult population.

Methods The study was conducted in 1978--1981 and was based on a population sample (N = 8000) representative of the Finnish population aged 30 years or over. Full-size chest radiographs and a complete job title history were available for 3811 women and 3274 men. The radiographs were classified according to the 1980 classification of radiographs of pneumoconioses published by the International Labour Office and the work histories according to the probability of occupational asbestos exposure. Age- and smoking-adjusted relative risks of radiographic parenchymal and pleural abnormalities were calculated with the analysis of covariance according to the probability of asbestos exposure.

Results About 13% of the men and 0.8% of the women were classified as probably exposed to asbestos. There was more than 90% agreement in the repeated work history evaluations. The risk of small lung opacities was significantly increased among the probably exposed men [risk ratio (RR) 1.7 for ILO profusion category 1/1 or more and RR 1.6 for profusion category l/0]. The risk of pleural plaques was increased both among the men (RR 3.0) and the women (RR 4.8) with probable exposure. The risk of thickened horizontal interlobar fissure was also increased among the probably exposed men (RR 1.7). Among the men, the etiologic fraction attributable to occupational asbestos exposure was about 30% for small lung opacities, about 40% for pleural plaques, and about 20% for thickened horizontal fissure. Among the women the etiologic fractions for asbestos were similar for pleural abnormalities, but much lower for parenchymal ones.

Conclusion Occupational asbestos exposure has been common among Finnish men, and it plays a significant role in the etiology of both pleural and parenchymal abnormalities also at the level of the general population.

The following article refers to this text: 2001;27(2):154-155