Chest physician-reported, work-related, long-latency respiratory disease in Great Britain

Eur Respir J. 2017 Dec 28;50(6):1700961. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00961-2017. Print 2017 Dec.


Much of the current burden of long-latency respiratory disease (LLRD) in Great Britain is attributed to historical asbestos exposure. However, continuing exposure to other agents, notably silica, also contributes to disease burden. The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of work-related LLRD reported by chest physicians in Great Britain, including variations by age, gender, occupation and suspected agent.LLRD incidence and incidence rate ratios by occupation were estimated (1996-2014). Mesothelioma cases by occupation were compared with proportional mortality ratios.Cases were predominantly in men (95%) and 92% of all cases were attributed to asbestos. Annual average incidence rates (males) per 100 000 were: benign pleural disease, 7.1 (95% CI 6.0-8.2); mesothelioma, 5.4 (4.8-6.0); pneumoconiosis, 1.9 (1.7-2.2); lung cancer, 0.8 (0.6-1.0); chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 0.3 (0.2-0.4). Occupations with a particularly high incidence of LLRD were miners and quarrymen (COPD), plumbers and gas fitters (asbestosis), and shipyard and dock workers (all other categories). There was a clear concordance between cases of SWORD mesothelioma and proportional mortality ratios by occupation.Occupationally caused LLRD continues to contribute to a significant disease burden. Many cases are attributable to past exposure to agents such as asbestos and silica, but the potential for occupational exposures persists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asbestos / toxicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Physicians
  • Respiration Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Silicon Dioxide / toxicity
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Asbestos
  • Silicon Dioxide