Chronic Diffuse Interstitial Fibrosis of the Lung in Uranium Miners.
Archer, Victor E. MD; Renzetti, Attilio D. MD; Doggett, Reuben S. MD; Jarvis, Joseph Q. MD, MSPH; Colby, Thomas V. MD
Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
40(5):460-474, May 1998.
Many uranium miners have been disabled by and died of pulmonary fibrosis that was not recognized as an occupational disease. A review of animal studies, complications from whole body irradiation, pulmonary function, and mortality studies of uranium miners led us to suspect radiation-induced chronic diffuse interstitial fibrosis in miners who had inhaled excessive radon progeny. A selected group of uranium miners (22) with severe respiratory disease (but no rounded nodules in chest films) were studied. Lung tissue from five disclosed severe diffuse interstitial fibrosis, with"honeycomb lung" in all. Some also had small anthrasilicotic nodules and birefringent crystals. Although quartz crystals probably contributed, we concluded that the predominant injurious agent in these cases was alpha particles from radon progeny. This disease, after a long latent period, usually results in pulmonary hypertension, shortness of breath, and death by cardiopulmonary failure.
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