Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 61–69 | Cite as

Pulmonary inflammation and crystalline silica in respirable coal mine dust: Dose response

  • E. D. KuempelEmail author
  • M. D. Attfield
  • V. Vallyathan
  • N. L. Lapp
  • J. M. Hale
  • R. J. Smith
  • V. Castranova


This study describes the quantitative relationships between early pulmonary responses and the estimated lungburden or cumulative exposure of respirable-quartz or coal mine dust. Data from a previous bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) study in coal miners (n = 20) and nonminers (n = 16) were used including cell counts of alveolar macrophages AMs) and polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), and the antioxidant superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels. Miners’ individual working lifetime particulate exposures were estimated from work histories and mine air sampling data, and quartz lung-burdens were estimated using a lung dosimetry model. Results show that quartz, as either cumulative exposure or estimated lung-burden, was a highly statistically significant predictor of PMN response (P< 00001); however cumulative coal dust exposure did not significantly add to the prediction of PMNs (P = 0.2) above that predicted by cumulative quartz exposure (P < 0.0001). Despite the small study size, radiographic category was also significantly related to increasing levels of both PMNs and quartz lung burden (P-values < 0.04). SOD in BAL fluid rose linearly with quartz lung burden (P < 0.01), but AM count in BAL fluid did not (P > 0.4). This study demonstrates dose-response relationships between respirable crystalline silica in coal mine dust and pulmonary inflammation, antioxidant production, and radiographic small opacities.


Bronchoalveolar lavage coal dust crystalline silica dose response pulmonary inflammation 

Abbreviations used


alveolar macrophage


bronchoalveolar lavage


chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases


coal workers pneumoconiosis


polymorphonuclear leukocyte


superoxide dismutase


whole lung lavage


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. D. Kuempel
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. D. Attfield
    • 1
    • 2
  • V. Vallyathan
    • 1
    • 3
  • N. L. Lapp
    • 1
    • 4
  • J. M. Hale
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. J. Smith
    • 1
  • V. Castranova
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Education and Information Division, Risk Evaluation BranchNational Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH)CincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Division of Respiratory Disease StudiesNIOSHMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Health Effects Laboratory DivisionNIOSHMorgantownUSA
  4. 4.Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care MedicineWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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