Q and A What is a B-Reader? A B-Reader is a radiologist or physician who has achieved competency in interpreting chest x-rays of workers exposed to substances such as asbestos, silica, and coal dust. Why B-Readers? For workers who suffer from pneumoconiosis (lung disease caused by dust inhalation), a key diagnostic tool is the patient's chest x-ray. A B-Reader can recognize on a chest x-ray the signs of the various pneumoconioses. Radiographic changes in workers exposed to crystalline silica, for example, are the most sensitive means of early detection of disease; that is, abnormalities are usually seen radiographically before pulmonary function loss can be detected by spirometry, or before symptoms appear. Repeated classification of radiographs may vary considerably, not only from reader to reader, but also among multiple readings by the same reader. To improve the proficiency of readers and minimize the variability of readings, NIOSH grants B-Reader certification to physicians who demonstrate proficiency in the classification of chest x-rays for the pneumonoconioses using the International Labour Office Classification System. Recertification is required at four-year intervals. More details can be obtained from NIOSH by visiting their web site at www.cdc.gov/niosh/
or calling (304) 285-5724.