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Am J Ind Med. 1988;14(1):37-46.

Alveolar fiber load in asbestos workers and in subjects with no occupational asbestos exposure: an electron microscopy study.

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Research Center on Biological Effects of Inhaled Dusts, University of Milan, Italy.


The alveolar fiber load was evaluated by bronchoalveolar lavage and by scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM) in 50 subjects with or without occupational exposure to asbestos. The concentration of asbestos fibers in bronchoalveolar lavage was significantly higher in the groups of people currently and formerly occupationally exposed, compared to the concentration found in people only exposed environmentally, despite wide interindividual variation within the groups. Nonasbestos inorganic fibers were present in all groups, but the concentrations did not differ significantly. Both in people occupationally exposed and in those only environmentally exposed, the alveolar load consisted mainly of ultrashort and ultrathin fibers, which can be studied only with TEM. In fact, the percentage of fibers greater than 5 micron long was only around 15% in the occupationally exposed and was minimal in those only environmentally exposed. The geometric mean diameters of asbestos fibers retained in the alveoli ranged from 0.05 micron for chrysotile to 0.15 micron for amphiboles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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