Respiratory effects and serum type III procollagen in potato sorters exposed to diatomaceous earth.

Exposure to diatomaceous earth with low crystalline silica content (< 1%) is rarely reported to cause pneumoconiotic disease, whereas airway obstruction and bronchitis are more frequently reported. We investigated the occurrence of pneumoconiosis and airflow limitation in 172 male workers from 5 potato sorting plants (55 controls, 29 salesmen, 72 currently exposed, and 16 retired exposed) exposed to inorganic dust from former sea terraces (7.7-15.4 mg/m3), high in diatomaceous earth. The presence of fibrosis was evaluated by chest radiographs (exposed only) and serum levels of type III procollagen (P-III-P) were measured as an estimate of fibrogenetic activity. Lung function was assessed by flow volume curves and impedance measurements. A validated questionnaire was used to record respiratory symptoms. No pneumoconiotic abnormalities were demonstrated by chest radiographs. In line with this finding, serum P-III-P levels were not elevated in exposed workers as compared to controls, suggesting no differences in fibrogenetic activity. In fact, serum P-III-P levels decreased significantly (P < 0.03) with increasing cumulative exposure. Flow volume parameters indicated airflow obstruction, dose-related to (cumulative) dust exposure; the annual decline in forced expiratory flow volume (FEV1) was estimated at 10.5 ml/year (P < 0.05). Airway obstruction was confirmed by impedance analysis: In the retired group impedance changes were compatible with airway obstruction extending into the peripheral airways. We conclude that this exposure to quartz during potato sorting does not result in an increased risk for pneumoconiosis, but that (prolonged) surveillance in this group is desirable in order to detect early indications of airflow obstruction.
AuthorsT H Jorna, P J Borm, K D Koiter, J J Slangen, P T Henderson, E F Wouters
JournalInternational archives of occupational and environmental health (Int Arch Occup Environ Health) Vol. 66 Issue 4 Pg. 217-22 ( 1994) ISSN: 0340-0131 [Print] Germany
PMID7843830 (Publication Type: Journal Article)
Chemical References
  • Procollagen
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • Adult
  • Agriculture
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diatomaceous Earth (adverse effects)
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure (adverse effects)
  • Pneumoconiosis (blood, etiology, physiopathology)
  • Procollagen (blood)
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases (blood, etiology, physiopathology)

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