Parenchymal asbestosis due to primary asbestos exposure among ship-breaking workers: report of the first cases from Bangladesh

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Abstract

We report for the first time asbestosis among ship-breaking workers of Sitakunda in Bangladesh who were exposed to asbestos during ship-based and beach-based operations for at least 10 years. Asbestosis was present among 35% of workers. Years of work (>20) and forced vital capacity (<80% of predicted) were significantly associated with the disease. Currently, global ship-breaking operations are mainly concentrated in the Indian subcontinent, and Bangladesh has the majority share. Ninety per cent of domestic steel is produced in the ship-breaking operations in Bangladesh and is an important contributor to the economy. It also gives employment to more than 100 000 people. It is imperative to medically check up all the workers for benign and malignant diseases causally related to asbestos among these vulnerable population of workers.

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