The concentrations of lung particulates in subjects with no overt pneumoconioses or documented occasional exposure were determined using a scanning electron microscope automated x-ray and image analysis system. Lungs from 91 subjects who died from natural causes were obtained at autopsy and analyzed for particulate content. Four lungs were found to have high particulate concentrations as a result of occupational exposure and were excluded from further analysis. A mean exogenous particle concentration of 476x10(6) particles per gram of dry lung was seen for the remaining samples. The same particle types were found among the different lungs, with aluminum silicates being the most prevalent type. Silica and rutile like particles were seen in all samples as well and alumina like particles were seen in 83 of the 87 lungs. The mean diameters for the exogenous particles ranged from 0.37 to 1.02 microns, and the particle sizes were log normally distributed for each sample. No differences were seen in particle content between males and females, races, or smokers and nonsmokers. The authors conclude that these results are in agreement with those from previously published studies of lung particulate content covering subjects of a different geographic origin using different analytical techniques.
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