Asbestos-Related Disease in Public School Custodians

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A cross-sectional prevalence study of 120 public school custodians was carried out. The purposes were 1) to investigate the prevalence of asbestos-related disease in a group of custodians at risk for asbestos exposure in public schools and 2) to determine the proportion with disease attributable to exposures in school buildings. Mean age of subjects was 57 years and mean duration of work as a custodian, 27 years. Fifty-seven (47.5%) had no known or likely exposure to asbestos outside of their work as a school custodian (NOE). Pleural plaques (PP) occurred in 40 (33%) of the total group and 12 (21%) of the group with NOE. Pulmonary restriction (FVC less than 80% predicted, FEV1/FVC% greater than or equal to 70) occurred in 22 (18%) of the total group and 10 (17%) of those with NOE. DLCO was lower in the group with restriction. Multivariate analysis revealed significant associations (p less than 0.05) between both PP and restriction and duration of asbestos exposure. AO radiographs increased PP detection by a factor of 1.9. Our results reveal PP prevalence in excess of background and pulmonary restriction in the study population, and indicate that PP are attributable to asbestos in schools. Findings with regard to pulmonary restriction need further investigation. Prudent management of asbestos in buildings is indicated for the prevention of related disease. [Authors' abstract]
Oliver, L.C.; Sprince, N.L.; Greene, R.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
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