Histopathological diagnosis of pneumoconiosis

Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia 2006;32 Suppl 2:S99-112. [Link]

Capelozzi VL, Saldiva PH.

Laboratório de Histopatologia, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil.


Asbestos-related diseases constitute a major health problem due to the great number of workers exposed to asbestos over the past 50 years. Personal injury lawsuits against industries that deal with asbestos number in the hundreds, and new cases continue to be filed. The scientific issues related to asbestos are complex, and, although the broad outlines of asbestos-related diseases have been well-established, many significant aspects (such as the pathology involved) are poorly understood. In Brazil, asbestos has been mined commercially since 1940, with production levels recently approaching 200,000 tons/year, resulting in the asbestos exposure of approximately 10,000 workers in the mining activity, and an unknown number of workers in asbestos-cement industry, primarily roofers and concrete rooftop water tank installers. One study, using appropriate methods of scientific investigation to evaluate the effects of such exposure on the health of asbestos mine workers in Brazil was conducted as part of a multicenter study and entitled "Morbidity and Mortality Among Workers Exposed to Asbestos in Mining Activities, 1940-1996". Drawing upon the experience acquired during the course of that study, the objective of the current report was to give an overview of asbestos-related diseases, with a special focus on the difficulties involved in establishing the histopathological diagnosis.

Keywords: Pneumoconiosis/pathology; Asbestos; Asbestosis/pathology; Lung neoplasms/pathology; Mesothelioma/pathology; Occupational diseases; Environmental exposure