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Keywords:

  • silicosis;
  • Brazil;
  • stone carving;
  • HRCT;
  • ILO reading;
  • lung function;
  • air sampling

Abstract

Background

In the city of Petrópolis, Brazil, artisans carve souvenirs from a variety of silica-containing minerals. The finding of pulmonary massive fibrosis in one of the workers motivated an investigation of the prevalence of silicosis in this group.

Methods

Between January 2000 and June 2002, a cross-sectional study was performed. We obtained clinical and occupational histories, spirometry, lung volumes, and carbon monoxide diffusion capacity measurements. Chest radiographs and high-resolution computed tomographies (HRCT) were evaluated. Personal air samples were analyzed.

Results

Forty-two stone carvers were examined. The prevalence of silicosis was 53.7%. HRCT better characterized silicotic lesions compared to chest radiographs. Early coalescence of small opacities was associated with lung function impairment. The concentration of dust exceeded permissible limits in 91% of the workplaces.

Conclusions

Exposure to high levels of silica dust was associated with an increased prevalence of silicosis among stone carvers. Am. J. Ind. Med. 45:194–201, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.