Longitudinal pulmonary function losses in Vermont granite workers. A reevaluation

Chest. 1994 Jul;106(1):125-30. doi: 10.1378/chest.106.1.125.


Previous studies have suggested that excessive losses of FVC and FEV1 were occurring in Vermont granite workers despite the fact that mean quartz levels existing in the industry were below the current OSHA standard of 100 micrograms/m3. We reexamined these losses in granite workers over an 8-year period, testing the workforce biennially from 1979 to 1987. All workers, including stone shed, quarry, and office, were offered forced spirometry using a 10-L water-sealed spirometer (Collins). In the peak year of participation (1983), 887 workers out of a total of approximately 1,400 were tested. Estimates of longitudinal loss were based on 711 workers who participated in at least three of the surveys. The mean age of this group was 42.9 years, and the mean years employed was 19.3 years; 21.4 percent were non-smokers (NS), 34.2 percent were ex-smokers (ES), and 44.4 percent were current smokers (CS). Average annual losses of FVC were 0.018 (SD = 0.056) L (CS, 0.025 L; NS, 0.006 L: and ES, 0.016 L). Average annual losses of FEV1 were 0.030 (SD = 0.041) L (CS, 0.038 L; NS, 0.020 L; and ES, 0.027 L). Analysis of covariance indicated that losses were related to the initial values for FVC or FEV1, height, age, and smoking status. After adjusting for these variables, the losses of both FVC and FEV1 were not correlated with years employed in the granite industry. No significant differences existed in the loss of FVC or FEV1 in categories of workers exposed to different levels of granite dust, eg, office, quarry, and stone shed workers. The annual losses of pulmonary function were significantly smaller than those estimated previously, which were 0.070 to .080 L in FVC, and 0.050-0.070 L in FEV1. We conclude that dust levels in the Vermont granite industry, which have been in conformance with OSHA permissible exposure limits, do not accelerate pulmonary function loss.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Dust / analysis
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Quartz / analysis
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Silicon Dioxide / adverse effects*
  • Silicosis / diagnosis*
  • Silicosis / physiopathology
  • Vital Capacity


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • granite
  • Quartz
  • Silicon Dioxide