American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2019 May 2 [Link]
Macedo RF, Cerqueira EMFP, Algranti E, Silva D, De Capitani EM
To evaluate the frequency and severity of pleuropulmonary alterations in anthophyllite-exposed former workers in Itapira, São Paulo, Brazil. The amphibole anthophyllite, a magnesium-iron silicate, had its mining, marketing, and use forbidden in Brazil in 1995.
Former workers were followed from 1999 to 2011. All completed chest X-ray interpreted using the International Labour Office (ILO) classification. High-resolution computed tomography was used at the final evaluation. Spirometry assessed forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), and FEV1/FVC throughout the follow-up period. Samples from the mined ore were analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy coupled to energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS).
XRD and SEM-EDS confirmed the presence in ore of anthophyllite at a concentration of 75%, in addition to tremolite and other amphiboles in lower concentrations. Twenty-eight subjects were evaluated. Median time of exposure was 3 years (minimum = 1; maximum = 18; interquartile interval = 1-4). Twenty cases of pleural abnormalities were diagnosed in 26 evaluated (77%). The average latency time was 25.6 ± 7.4 years. Two individuals (7.7%) showed progressive worsening of diffuse pleural thickening (DPT) and exhibited an annual FVC decrease of 85 mL and 150 mL, respectively.
This small sample showed a very high index of nonmalignant pleural abnormalities in anthophyllite-exposed workers compared with workers exposed to other kinds of fibers. Rapidly progressive DPT, defined by the severity of pleural compromise, was possibly secondary to the presence of other amphibole types in the inhaled dust. No significant loss of FVC was found in the studied group as a whole. No cases of asbestosis, lung carcinoma, and mesothelioma were diagnosed in this cohort.