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Am J Ind Med. 1993 Oct;24(4):447-57.

Risk of silicosis in a cohort of white South African gold miners.

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Epidemiology Research Unit, Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases, Johannesburg, South Africa.


The risk of silicosis was investigated in a cohort of 2,235 white South African gold miners who had, on average, 24 years of net service from 1940 to the early 1970s and who were followed up to 1991 for radiological signs of onset of silicosis (ILO category 1/1 or more). There were 313 (14%) miners who developed signs of silicosis at an average age of 55.9 years. The latency period was largely independent of the cumulative dust exposure. In 57% of the silicosis, the radiological signs developed, on average, 7.4 years after mining exposure ceased. The risk of silicosis increased exponentially with the cumulative dust dose, the accelerated increase being after 7 mg/m3-years. At the highest exposure level of 15 mg/m3-years, which represents approximately 37 years of gold mining at an average respirable dust concentration of 0.4 mg/m3, the cumulative risk for silicosis reached 77%. In conclusion, the risk of silicosis was strongly dose dependent; however, the latency period was largely independent of the dose.

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