Screening for asbestos-induced diseases in Finland

Am J Ind Med. 1996 Sep;30(3):241-51. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0274(199609)30:3<241::AID-AJIM1>3.0.CO;2-1.


Screening for asbestos-induced diseases in Finland was carried out in 1990-1992 as a part of the Asbestos Program of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The aim of the present study was to find the workers who had developed an asbestos-induced disease in certain occupations. Examination of active or retired workers included a personal interview on work history and asbestos exposure, and a chest X-ray. The target group for the screening comprised workers under 70 years of age who had worked at least for 10 years in construction, 1 year in a shipyard or in the manufacture of asbestos products. A preliminary questionnaire was sent to 54,409 workers, 18,943 of whom finally participated in the screening examination. The mean age of the workers was 53 years; 95% were employed in construction, 2% in shipyards, and 3% in the asbestos industry. The criteria for a positive screening result were (1) a radiographic finding clearly indicating lung fibrosis (at least ILO category 1/1), (2) a radiographic finding indicating mild lung fibrosis (ILO category 1/0) with unilateral or bilateral pleural plaques, (3) marked abnormalities of the visceral pleura (marked adhesions with or without pleural thickening), or (4) bilateral pleural plaques. The positive cases totalled 4,133 (22%) and were sent for further investigation. In addition to the screening, information on the presence of asbestos in the work environment, prevention of asbestos exposure, as well as on the health effects of asbestos exposure and smoking were given to the participating workers. The screening acted as a preliminary survey to prompt further national follow-up of asbestos-induced diseases among the workers who have been exposed to asbestos. This article presents the material, methods, and overall results of the screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Asbestosis / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases / etiology
  • Lung Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiography
  • Sampling Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Asbestos