The primary prevention programmes carried out in the 1950's and 1960's in industrialized countries brought about a significant reduction in the incidence of pneumoconiosis. Nevertheless, it is still possible to diagnose new cases, perhaps in relatively unusual working activities.
Objective: To describe a case of q 2/2 pneumoconiosis associated with mixed powder containing less than 1% quartz that occurred in a 37 year-old female worker, who had been previously employed (1987-1994) in manually spraying a primer solution on the bottom of non-stick aluminium pans.
Methods: The manufacturing firm supplied details of the composition of the primer. The physiological, pathological and occupational history was obtained for the worker, who also underwent: respiratory functional exploration, chest radiographs and HRCT of the thorax, fibrobronchoscopy, with transbronchial biopsy and BAL collection. The lung tissue sample was examined via light microscopy and scanning electron microscope analysis.
Results: The primer contained 6.8% talc, free from asbestos or silica, 3.8% iron oxides and 0.6% bentonite which, in turn, contained less than 1% crystalline silica. The job was performed in a semi-confined environment, with an inefficient aspiration system. The worker had never complained of respiratory symptoms. Radiographs and HRCT showed widespread micronodulation. Light microscopy of pulmonary tissue showed multinucleate giant cell granulomas with intracytoplasmatic inclusions. Scanning electron microscope analysis revealed that these consisted of agglomerated particles, microanalysis of which showed the presence of a silicate.
Conclusions: Particular jobs performed up to few years ago in Italy in a semi-confined environment can still involve exposure to doses of mineral dusts such as to cause pneumoconiosis. This is the first case of mixed powder pneumoconiosis described in a worker employed in the production of non-stick aluminium pans.