Publication of the paper, 'The relationship between pneumoconiosis and dust-exposure in British coal mines' (Jacobsen et al., 1971), together with the papers by Chamberlain et al. (1971) and Dodgson et al. (1971), marked the culmination of research undertaken for, or contributing to, the Interim Standards Study (ISS) of the British National Coal Board’s Pneumoconiosis Field Research (PFR). The ISS was a special investigation undertaken to develop new dust standards for British coal mines (Jacobsen et al., 1970). In 1952, the National Coal Board established the PFR in response to an invitation from the United Kingdom National Joint Pneumoconiosis Committee to 'undertake a field research in order to determine how much and what kinds of dust cause pneumoconiosis and to establish what environmental conditions should be maintained if mine workers are not to be disabled by the dust that they breathe during the course of their work' (Fay and Rae, 1959). A significant impetus for the research came from the fact that approximately 36,000 coalminers had been determined to be disabled by the disease during the preceding two decades (1931-1949) by the British Silicosis Medical Board or the Pneumoconiosis Panels of the Ministry of National Insurance (Cochrane et al., 1951). [Meiklejohn (1952) reported a coalminer population in Britain of approximately 63,000 for 1950.] During the next 15 years, the PFR pursued an intensive program of careful data collection and analysis. From this background the Jacobsen et al. paper emerged. The strength and influence of this paper lie not only in its own scientific merits, but also depend heavily on the preceding efforts upon which it is based: the rigorous design, the data quality control, and the methodological innovations developed or implemented by the PFR team under the leadership of Dr John Rogan. In addition, a heavy debt is owed to the work undertaken on radiographic assessment by the Periodic X-ray (PXR) Scheme of the British National Coal Board, and the pioneering investigations at the Pneumoconiosis Research Unit of the Medical Research Council.
M. D. Attfield, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505