Continued Exposure to Silica After Diagnosis of Silicosis in Brazilian Gold Miners

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BackgroundThere is a paucity of studies analyzing the effect of continued silica exposure after the onset of silicosis with regard to disease progression. The present study investigates differences in clinical and radiological presentation of silicosis among former workers with a diagnosis of silicosis, and compares workers who continued to be exposed to silica with those who stopped silica exposure after having received their diagnosis.MethodsA sample of 83 former gold miners with a median of 21 years from the first diagnoses of silicosis, had their clinical and occupational histories taken and underwent both chest radiography (International Labor Organization standards) and spirometry. Their silica exposure was assessed and an exposure index was created. The main outcome was the radiological severity of silicosis and tuberculosis (TB). The statistical analysis was done by multiple logistic regression.ResultsAmong the 83 miners, 44 had continued exposed to silica after being diagnosed with silicosis. Continuation of silica exposure was associated with advanced radiological images of silicosis (X-ray classification in category 3, OR = 6.42, 95% CI = 1.20-34.27), presence of coalescence and/or large opacities (OR = 3.85, CI =1.07—13.93), and TB (OR = 4.61, 95% CI= 1.14-18.71).ConclusionsDifferential survival is unlikely to explain observed differences in silicosis progression. Results reinforce the recommendation that silica exposure should be halted at an early stage whenever X-ray is suggestive of the disease. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:811—818, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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