Prevalence Survey of Respiratory Abnormalities in New Mexico Uranium Miners

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To obtain additional data concerning uranium mining and nonmalignant respiratory diseases, we conducted a prevalence survey of 192 long-term New Mexico uranium miners. Survey procedures included spirometry, completion of a respiratory symptoms questionnaire, physical examination and interpretation of available chest × rays. Total duration of underground uranium mining was used as the exposure index. Of the major respiratory symptoms, only the prevalence of dyspnea increased significantly with duration of uranium mining. With linear multiple-regression analysis, small but statistically significant effects of mining were found for two spirometric parameters, the forced expiratory volume in one sec and the maximal midexpiratory flow. By the 1980 International Labor Organization (ILO) U/C classification, 12 of 143 participants with × rays available for interpretation had at least category 1/0 pneumoconiosis. The opacities were predominantly nodular and compatible with silicosis.

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