• Families of 338 male and 81 female shipyard workers (SYW), including 280 wives, 144 daughters, and 81 sons, were examined for diseases resulting from asbestos. The workers were initially exposed to asbestos at least 20 years prior to the study date. Radiographic signs of asbestosis (using standard criteria International Labor Office 1980) were found in 64% of 288 male SYW and 21% of 71 female SYW. After excluding those with any occupational exposure to asbestos, asbestosis prevalence was 11% in wives, 8% in sons, and 2% in daughters. Asbestos disease prevalence in workers and in wives increased with the number of years from initial exposure. Male SYW who had smoked had airway obstruction without volume loss. Nonsmokers had normal pulmonary functions. In SYW households prevalences of respiratory diseases, wheezing on physical examination, and symptoms of asthma and chronic bronchitis, exceeded those in the comparison (Michigan) population, even for the younger daughters and sons. These differences, and airway obstruction and distribution defects reported earlier were not explained by cigarette smoking or by asbestos exposure. Instead, they are tentatively ascribed to long-term exposure to ambient air pollution in Los Angeles.
(Arch Intern Med 1986;146:2213-2220)