Suspected causal agents associated with the long-latency respiratory disease cases reported by chest physicians to SWORD (Surveillance of Work-related and Occupational Respiratory Disease), 1996–2014

DiagnosisActual cases nAttributed to asbestosReported as “no known asbestos exposure” or “exposure unknown”Attributed to agents other than asbestosOther agents recorded by the physicians included#
Non-malignant pleural disease60315950 (99%)50 (<1%)31 (<1%)Dusts (coal, wood and unspecified), silica and silicates, cadmium, chromium and chromates, aluminium, silver/copper, bitumen, chromic acid, ceramic fibres
Mesothelioma28722711 (94%)156 (5%)5 (<1%)Wood dust, fibre glass, “environment at work”
Pneumoconiosis15021165 (78%)3 (<1%)334 (22%)Silica, coal, other dusts (wood, stone, cement, limestone, carbon, metal, unspecified), metal working fluid, aluminium, cobalt, zinc, iron, nickel, beryllium, welding fume, chromium, colophony, quartz, cotton, flax, coolant oils, hard metals (tungsten carbide), polytetrafluoroethylene, “fly ash”, French chalk, kaolin, clay, silicon carbide, zircon
Lung cancer392352 (90%)7 (2%)33 (8%)Chromium and chromates, radon, active/passive smoking, nickel, silica, copper/iron/arsenic, uranium, “industrial radiation”, creosote, “plating fumes”
COPD31637 (12%)13 (4%)266 (84%)Coal, other dusts (cement, cotton, metal, wood, clay and unspecified), cadmium, aluminium, silica, metal working fluids, active/passive smoking, isocyanates, “fumes” (foundry, welding, metal, rubber and diesel) radiation, chlorine, bromine, sulphur dioxide, amines/sand, carbon black, chromium and chromates, hydrogen sulphide, oil mist, fibreglass
Other long latency2803 (11%)25 (89%)8 cases of bronchiolitis (welding fume, chlorine, oil effluent, silica, metal working fluid, diacetyl, “boat building chemicals”), 5 cases of byssinosis (cotton), 4 cases of pneumonitis (isocyanates, lime, xylene, “unknown coating”), 3 cases of interstitial lung disease (brick dust, chromium/cobalt/nickel/metal working fluids), 2 cases of fibrosing alveolitis (coffee beans, detergents), 2 cases of bronchiectasis (fungal, biological/hazardous waste), and 1 case each of pleural mass (Cryptoccus), multiple pulmonary nodules (glass wool), Langerhans cell granulomatosis (metal working fluid) and pulmonary fibrosis (coolant oils)
Total cases10 8599950 (92%)230 (2%)679 (6%)

Data are presented as n (%), unless otherwise stated. COPD: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. #: cases with more than one diagnosis were excluded (due to the difficulty of assigning agent to specific diagnosis).