Pulmonary changes after exposure to vermiculite contaminated with fibrous tremolite

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1984 Jun;129(6):952-8. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1984.129.6.952.


Workers exposed to vermiculite contaminated with fibrous tremolite were surveyed for the presence of respiratory symptoms by questionnaire, and for pneumoconiosis by chest radiograph. Pulmonary function was measured by spirometry and single-breath carbon monoxide diffusing capacity ( DLCOsb ). Fiber exposure indexes, expressed as fiber/ml-yr, were derived for each worker from available industrial hygiene data and work histories. The estimated cumulative exposure for the work force ranged from 0.01 to 39 fiber/ml-yr. Discriminant analysis demonstrated significant correlates with shortness of breath and pleuritic chest pain to cumulative fiber exposure. The radiographic changes were limited to pleural changes and involved 4.4% of the population. Parametric and discriminant analysis demonstrated a significant correlation with radiographic changes and cumulative fiber exposure. There were no correlations between spirometry or DLCOsb and fiber exposure. Exposure to vermiculite contaminated with fibrous tremolite can cause pleural changes in occupationally exposed workers. This is supported by the previously identified 12 cases of benign pleural effusions in this working population and the association of pleural radiographic changes and pleuritic chest symptoms with cumulative fiber exposure. The lack of significant parenchymal radiographic, spirometric, and DLCOsb changes most likely reflects the low cumulative fiber exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aluminum Silicates / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos, Amphibole*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumoconiosis / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Radiography
  • Silicic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Silicon Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Spirometry
  • Time Factors


  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Asbestos, Amphibole
  • vermiculite
  • Silicic Acid
  • tremolite
  • Silicon Dioxide