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January 13, 1984

Silicosis Epidemic Reported in 1900

Author Affiliations

Veterans Administration Medical Center Tulane University School of Medicine New Orleans

JAMA. 1984;251(2):217. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340260025015

To the Editor.—  Choosing 50 LANDMARK ARTICLES from 5,200 issues of The Journal is a formidable task. We are writing to call attention to what we consider a landmark article that may have had an impact at its time of publication, but its lesson was apparently soon forgotten.The article, to our knowledge the first epidemiologic survey of silicosis in the United States, is entitled "Chalicosis Pulmonum or Chronic Interstitial Pneumonia Induced by Stone Dust" and was written in 1900 by William Winthrop Betts.1 Dr Betts described the natural history of acute silicosis, 30 deaths caused by silicosis in a Nevada quartz mill among workers with a mean duration of employment of 14 months, measurements of silica in the lungs of cases that had autopsies, and commented on at least 70 more men dead of silicosis during a five-year period at this workplace.The article is well written, with