Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2005;31(2):115-121    pdf


Radiological pleural changes in nonpneumoconiotic silica-exposed coal miners

by Orriols R, Muñoz X, Sunyer J, Isidro I, Tura JM, Ferrer J

Objectives Whether nonpneumoconiotic silica-exposed coal miners develop radiologically recognizable pleural changes was studied.

Methods In a retrospective follow-up study, the oldest and the most recent chest X-rays of 765 workers with a profusion category lower than 1/0 according to the International Labour Office were read.

Results Altogether 720 (94.1%) workers had no abnormalities, and 45 (5.9%) showed some pleural alteration in the first X-ray. In 43 (6%) of the 720 with no initial abnormalities, some pleural change was detected in the last X-ray. There was a statistical difference (P=0.022) according to silica exposure category [low: 5 (2.4%); medium: 8 (6%); high: 30 (8%)]. The relative risk for any pleural alteration was significantly increased in relation to the silica-exposed group [medium: odds ratio (OR) 5.72, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.4–23.5, P=0.016; high: OR 7.62, 95% CI 2.1–27.2, P=0.002] and to rib alterations (OR 3.74, 95% CI 1.4–9.7, P=0.007). In 19 (2.6%) workers with no alterations initially, a costophrenic sinus alteration was detected later. Again the silica exposure categories [low: 1 (0.5%); medium: 3 (2.2%); high: 15 (4.2%)] differed significantly (P=0.033). The relative risk of costophrenic sinus obliteration was significantly increased in relation to the silica-exposed group [medium: OR 8.59, 95% CI 0.7–113, P=0.102; high: OR 16.44, 95% CI 1.5–177, P=0.021]. The appearance of two costophrenic sinus obliterations and the disappearance of four were detected in the last chest X-ray of the 45 workers with some pleural alteration initially.

Conclusions Costophrenic sinus obliteration can be found in nonpneumoconiotic silica-exposed coal miners and seems to be associated with silica exposure intensity.