Small airways disease in coal miners. A longitudinal study

Bull Physiopathol Respir (Nancy). 1975 Nov-Dec;11(6):863-77.


Seventeen of an original cohort of 25 non-smoking working coal miners and 6 age-matched controls studied in 1969 were re-examined in 1973. Measurements included lung volumes, maximal expiratory flow-volume curves, and closing volumes. Miners, when compared with controls, showed a marked decline in maximal expiratory flow at mid-vital capacity (V 50%) over the 4-year period which took place without significant change in the 1-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1). Frequency dependence of dynamic compliance (Cdyn) in association with an increased upstream airways resistance (Rus), and also loss of lung elastic recoil (PL(St)) which were present at the time of the original study led to similar declines in V 50%. An abnormally elevated closing capacity expressed as a percentage of total lung capacity (CC/TLC)% was found in 9 miners (53%) and none of the controls. Closing volume as a percentage of vital capacity (CV/VC)% was abnormal in 4 miners (23.5)% and no controls. Measurement of closing volume did not relate well to the variety of mechanical abnormality present on the original study; namely, loss of recoil or small airways obstruction. The presence of an elevated (CC/TLC)% and (CV/VC)% correlated mainly with the presence of hyperinflation as indicated by an elevated residual volume.

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Compliance
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining
  • Pneumoconiosis / physiopathology*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Residual Volume