Study objectives: Twenty years ago, we reported on a very high prevalence of pleural calcifications (PCs) and malignant mesothelioma among inhabitants of Metsovo, in northwestern Greece. It was shown that both abnormalities were related to asbestos exposure from a whitewash containing tremolite. The fading use of this material has resulted in a decreased incidence of mesothelioma (one third of the original incidence). The aim of the present study was to examine whether PCs among Metsovites has followed a similar trend.
Design: Retrospective study.
Settings: University Hospital of Ioannina, a tertiary teaching hospital, “G. Hadjikosta” Hospital, a tertiary hospital in Ioannina, and Metsovo Health Center, a primary care center in the town of Metsovo.
Patients: Chest roentgenograms of 307 Metsovites, obtained between from 1998 to 2002 were examined. The prevalence of PCs was compared to the one noted 20 years ago.
Results: A significantly lower prevalence of calcifications was observed now among younger Metsovites (< 60 years of age). In both studies, there was an increasing rate of PC with age.
Conclusions: The findings of the present study strengthen the incrimination of the whitewash containing tremolite in the development of PCs in Metsovites. The withdrawal of its use in the area has resulted in a null prevalence of PCs in individuals < 40 years old.