Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1997;23(1):48-53    pdf


Relationship between asbestos bodies in sputum and the number of specimens

by Sulotto F, Capellaro E, Chiesa A, Villari S, Bontempi S, Scansetti G

Objectives This study investigated the relationship between asbestos body identification and the number of sputum specimens obtained from each subject.

Methods The presence of asbestos bodies in sputum was studied in 142 asbestos workers with former low-exposure levels; the number of specimens collected during 1--3 weeks varied from 2 to more than 4. Furthermore the persistence of asbestos bodies in the sputum of 15 asbestos workers was studied during a long-time follow-up.

Results Asbestos bodies were present in at least 1 specimen in 44.4% of the 142 subjects. The cumulative percentage of asbestos body presence increased linearly, from 20% to 68%, as the number of specimens increased.

Conclusions Five specimens did not seem to be sufficient to obtain satisfactory sensitivity in a group with low exposure to asbestos. Neither the type of exposure (to chrysotile only or to chrysotile plus amphibole) nor the presence of an asbestos-related disease clearly influenced the probability of finding asbestos bodies.