Screening and surveillance of workers exposed to mineral dusts

Occupational exposure to mineral dust is a significant cause of work disability, morbidity and mortality in working populations worldwide. Pneumoconiosis - the fibrotic reation of pulmonary tissue to retained dust - is one of the major debilitating outcomes of such exposure. Other health problems including chronic bronchitis, chronic airflow limitation, pleural fibrosis, emphysema and certain cancers, as well as an increased risk of tuberculosis, are also associated with exposure to mineral dusts. Particularly in developing countries, workers with these diseases can go undiagnosed and untreated, and, worst of all, effective preventive measures are not taken because of a lack of awareness of the problem.

This book presents a step-by-step approach to the development of screening and surveillance programmes for workers exposed to mineral dusts. Occupational health professionals using this approach will be better able to monitor exposure-related health problems, deliver treatment to affected individuals and, most importantly, devise appropriate preventive interventions. Focusing on exposure to asbestos, crystalline silica and coal mine dust, the book reviews the diseases associated with these three common dusts and examines the tests used to detect such disease with respect to their relevance to screening and surveillance programmes. Technical annexes provide examples of existing programmes in a variety of settings and discuss the use and interpretation of questionnaires, lung spirometry and chest radiography.