HRCT/CT and associated spirometric effects of low Libby amphibole asbestos exposure

J Occup Environ Med. 2015 Jan;57(1):6-13. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000373.


Objective: Evaluate the relationship between cumulative fiber exposure and high-resolution or conventional chest computed tomography (HRCT/CT) changes and spirometry of workers with Libby amphibole asbestos exposure.

Methods: Of the original 1980 cohort (n = 513), 431 were living and asked to participate. Images were evaluated for localized pleural thickening (LPT), diffuse pleural thickening (DPT), and parenchymal changes.

Results: A total of 306 participants provided either HRCT/CT scans (n = 191) or chest radiographs (n = 115). Of the 191 with HRCT/CT, 52.9% had pleural changes and 13.1% had parenchymal changes. Those with LPT only, LPT and/or DPT, or DPT and/or parenchymal changes had mean 6.1, 8.0, and 18.0 loss in percent predicted forced vital capacity, respectively.

Conclusions: Exposure to vermiculite containing amphibole fibers is associated with pleural and parenchymal HRCT/CT changes at low cumulative fiber exposure; these changes are associated with spirometric decrements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / toxicity*
  • Asbestos, Amphibole / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining*
  • Montana
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Pleura / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spirometry
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vital Capacity


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Asbestos, Amphibole