PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to determine whether there were any abnormalities in lung function or radiological evaluation in former granite quarry workers.
METHODS: We interviewed 73 non smokers, former granite quarry workers, for occupational history and exposure data for different working tasks. Chest x-ray, pulmonary function tests, and dyspnea grading, according to the American Thoracic Society evaluation scale, were performed, including cardiopulmonary exercise test in those with only mild dyspnea.
RESULTS: Patients had an age of 64 ± 8 years, were non smokers and had been employed for 28 ± 7 years. Chest x-rays according to the International Labour Organization classification system were normal. 12 subjects with unrelated pulmonary disorders and 10 subjects with history of cardiac disease were excluded. In the remaining 51 subjects we measured FEV1, FVC, Diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (TLCO) and Diffusing coefficient (KCO). Results expressed as % predicted were 79.1±25.5%, 81.2±24.4%, 83.0±26.5% and 77.5±12.1% respectively. According to the ATS dyspnea evaluation scale, 24 subjects had grade 0 dyspnea; 5 subjects had grade 1; 7 grade 2; 12 grade 3; and 3 subjects had grade 4 dyspnea. There were no significant differences in any of the values of lung function tests between subjects with different grades of dyspnea. Cardiopulmonary exercise testing was performed in the 29 subjects with grade 0 or 1 dyspnea. 13 subjects had no evidence of limitation to exercise, 12 subjects had respiratory limitation, 4 had cardiac limitation and 2 had evidence of peripheral muscle limitation.
CONCLUSION: Dyspnea on exertion and exercise limitation may be present in a minority of former granite quarry workers. Correlation between the severity of this limitation and pulmonary function tests at rest was poor.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Granite quarry exposure may result in exercise limitation despite normal chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests. Future studies might reveal the exact cause of this limitation.
DISCLOSURE: George Tatsis, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information