PURPOSE: This study was undertaken in order to investigate the possible pulmonary effects of indoor pollution by asbestos in subjects who have worked in various occupations in high-rise buildings during a 25 year period.
METHODS: The study population consisted of 146 non smokers. 78 of them were men (aged 52±7 years) and 68 women (aged 51±7 years). These subjects worked in various occupations in high-rise buildings (technicians, workers, cleaners etc), while 78 subjects did not have an apparent exposure to asbestos (white-collar job) and consisted the control group. All subjects were given a standardized questionnaire and underwent clinical examination, standard spirometry, chest x-ray and chest CT scan.
RESULTS: No significant abnormalities related to asbestos were detected on clinical examination and spirometry. No patient was diagnosed with lung cancer, mesothelioma, or interstitial lung disease. However, small pleural plaques were found on chest CT in 12 totally subjects (8.2%). 6 out of 8 technicians with direct exposure to asbestos (82%) and 6 out of 25 workers (18%). In contrast, only 2 out of 78 subjects (1.8%) who worked in white-collar jobs had small pleural plaques.
CONCLUSION: Prolonged exposure to asbestos in this group of workers in high-rise buildings was related to the formation of small pleural plaques but not to significant disease. These abnormalities were only detectable by chest CT, whereas clinical examination, standard spirometry and chest x-ray were unremarkable.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Indoor pollution by asbestos in high-rise buildings is not negligible. Considering the small number of subjects with direct exposure and the long latency of asbestos related diseases, this risk may be even greater.
DISCLOSURE: George Tatsis, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information