The first objective of the study was to investigate the relationships between quantitative lung mineral dust burdens, dust exposure history, and pathological fibrosis grading in silicotic workers. The second objective was to evaluate the association between particle size parameters, concentration of retained silica particles and the severity of the silicosis. Sixty-seven paraffin-embedded lung tissue samples of silicotic patients were analyzed. The cases of silicosis included 39 non-lung cancer patients and 28 patients with lung cancer. All of the cases were gold miners in the Province of Ontario, Canada.
Particles, both angular and fibrous, were extracted from lung parenchyma by a bleach digestion method, mounted on copper microscopic grids by a carbon replica technique, and analyzed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). Quartz concentration was also determined by X-ray diffraction (XRD) on a silver membrane filter after the extraction from the lung parenchyma.
Total particles, silica, clay, and quartz also increase in concentration with increased age at death, although the trends are not statistically significant. Quartz concentration has a statistically significant correlation with the silicosis severity score (r = +0.45, p