BMJ Case Reports 2017; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-222154
  • Global health

Parenchymal asbestosis due to primary asbestos exposure among ship-breaking workers: report of the first cases from Bangladesh

  1. Ahad Mahmud Khan3
  1. 1 Department of General Surgery, Sree Balaji Medical College and Hospital, Chennai, India
  2. 2 Central Medical College, Comilla, Bangladesh
  3. 3 John Hopkins University-Projahnmo, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  1. Correspondence to Venkiteswaran Muralidhar, murlidharv{at}
  • Accepted 17 October 2017
  • Published 3 November 2017


We report for the first time asbestosis among ship-breaking workers of Sitakunda in Bangladesh who were exposed to asbestos during ship-based and beach-based operations for at least 10 years. Asbestosis was present among 35% of workers. Years of work (>20) and forced vital capacity (<80% of predicted) were significantly associated with the disease. Currently, global ship-breaking operations are mainly concentrated in the Indian subcontinent, and Bangladesh has the majority share. Ninety per cent of domestic steel is produced in the ship-breaking operations in Bangladesh and is an important contributor to the economy. It also gives employment to more than 100 000 people. It is imperative to medically check up all the workers for benign and malignant diseases causally related to asbestos among these vulnerable population of workers.


  • Contributors VM planned the study, organised it, diagnosed asbestosis, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. MFA and AMK visited the site, helped in organising the medical camps, medically examined patients and suggested edits to the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Register for free content

The full text of all Editor's Choice articles and summaries of every article are free without registration

The full text of Images in ... articles are free to registered users

Only fellows can access the full text of case reports (apart from Editor's Choice) - become a fellow today, or encourage your institution to, so that together we can grow and develop this resource

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the case reports as they are published, and let us know what you think by commenting on the Editor's blog

Navigate This Article