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Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease |

A Longitudinal Study of Chest Radiographic Changes of Workers in the Refractory Ceramic Fiber Industry*

James E. Lockey, MD, MS, FCCP; Grace K. LeMasters, PhD; Linda Levin, PhD; Carol Rice, PhD; James Yiin, MPH; Susan Reutman, PhD; Diane Papes, BS
Author and Funding Information

*From the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH.

Correspondence to: James E. Lockey, MD, MS, FCCP, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, 3223 Eden Ave, Kettering Building, ML 0056, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0056



Chest. 2002;121(6):2044-2051. doi:10.1378/chest.121.6.2044
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Study objective: This industry-wide longitudinal study examines chest radiographic changes of workers manufacturing refractory ceramic fibers (RCF).

Design: Chest radiographs were obtained every 3 years and were interpreted using the 1980 International Labour Organization classification for pneumoconiosis. Three exposure metrics were calculated: duration and latency in a production job, and cumulative exposure (fiber-months per cubic centimeter).

Participants: The radiographic survey included 625 current workers at five manufacturing sites and 383 former workers at two of the five sites.

Measurements and results: Pleural changes were seen in 27 workers (2.7%). Of workers with > 20 years of latency from initial production job or 20 years of duration in a production job, 16 workers (8.0%) and 5 workers (8.1%) demonstrated pleural changes, respectively. Results from the cumulative exposure analysis (> 135 fiber-months per cubic centimeter) demonstrated a significant elevated odds ratio (OR) of 6.0 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4 to 31.0). The incidence of irregular opacities at profusion categories ≥ 1/0 was similar to other nonspecified dust-exposed worker populations at 1.0%, and showed a nonsignificant elevated OR in regard to cumulative fiber exposure of 4.7 (95% CI, 0.97 to 23.5).

Conclusions: RCF are significantly associated with pleural changes that were predominantly pleural plaques, but have not resulted in a statistically significant increase in interstitial changes.


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