To characterize exposures of asphalt workers in Norway and to evaluate exposure control measures.
Representative asphalt paving and mixing operations were monitored in Norway in 1991-92 for exposures to bitumen fume, organic vapor, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and vehicle exhaust (NO2, CO). Linear regression was used to evaluate introduced control measures.
A total of 320 samples of airborne organic matter were gathered (279 from paving). Median personal bitumen fume measurements ranged from 0.03 to 0.15 mg/m3 and were similar in paving and asphalt mixing. According to principal component analysis, there were three independent sets of PAHs: (i) PAHs lighter than 228 g/mol; (ii) 4- to 6-ring PAHs non-detectable in 80-90% of samples; and (iii) naphthalene. Some NO2 (1/49) and CO (12/58) concentrations near paving equipment exceeded 15 min exposure limits, 2 and 25 p.p.m., respectively. Changing sampling methods midway through the study had a significant impact on the measured bitumen fume and organic vapor levels. For pavers, lower application temperatures reduced organic vapor, but not bitumen fume, exposures. Retrofitting a paving machine produced at least a 5-fold reduction in exposure to airborne organic matter. Work in tunnels increased PAH exposures, but general ventilation partially counteracted this effect.
The observed exposure levels indicate that some potentially hazardous exposures may have occurred during paving in Norway. Bitumen fume, organic vapor and PAH exposures can be reduced using appropriate engineering control measures.
BACKGROUND: The main objective of the present study was to investigate whether exposure to bitumen fumes could enhance the risk of cancer in asphalt workers. METHODS: A historical prospective cohort study was performed including 8,763 male asphalt workers from all main asphalt companies in Norway. Name, date of birth, and unique personal identification number, address, job type, and start and stop of employment in specific jobs was obtained for the workers. Information was complied from payroll and personnel records in the companies. The cohort was then linked to the Cancer Registry of Norway, which has complete records of individual cases of cancer in the Norwegian population since 1953. Follow-up was from 1 January 1970 to 31 December 1997. The 5-year age and period adjusted general male population in Norway served as reference population. RESULTS: Lung cancer was found elevated with standardized incidence ratio (SIR) = 1.3 (95% confidence intervals (CI) = 1.1, 1.7) in the overall analysis. Lung cancer was found more elevated in workers first exposed in the 1950s and 1960s and in mastic asphalt workers (SIR = 4.2, 95% CI = 1.2, 10, based on four cases) and pavers (SIR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0, 1.9). There was a deficiency in the incidence of malignant melanoma with 13 cases versus 26 expected. CONCLUSIONS: Risk of lung cancer was found enhanced among the asphalt workers. Some of the enhanced risk could probably be explained by the smoking habits of the workers. Exposure to coal tar may also have contributed to the enhanced risk.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to investigate cancer risk following employment in the asphalt industry. METHODS :Cancer incidence was studied among 22 362 male asphalt workers employed for more than one season in jobs entailing exposure to bitumen (mainly road pavers) in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. These workers are part of a European cohort of asphalt workers, for which results on mortality have been reported. The follow-up was almost complete, and reference rates were obtained from national cancer registries. RESULTS: The incidence of cancer was reduced in all four countries [overall standardized incidence ratio (SIR) 0.89, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.86-0.94]. Lung cancer incidence was increased in all four countries, yielding an overall SIR of 1.21 (95% CI 1.07-1.36), but no trend was detected according to time since first employment. No overall increased incidence of bladder cancer was observed, but there was a suggestion of a tendency towards higher risk with longer time since first employment, with a relative risk of 1.85 (95% CI 0.90-3.78) for more than 30 years versus 1-14 years (P-value for trend 0.1). The incidence of lip and stomach cancer was nonsignificantly increased, and the excess was present mainly in Denmark. No increased incidence was detected for other neoplasms, notably malignant melanoma, nonmelanoma skin cancer, and kidney cancer. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study confirm the pattern of cancer risk detected in the mortality analysis of the European cohort; in addition, they provide suggestive evidence of an excess risk of bladder cancer among asphalt workers.
Comment In: Scand J Work Environ Health. 2004 Oct;30(5):337-815529796
BACKGROUND: An increased risk of lung cancers among asphalt workers has been suggested in epidemiological studies based on large scale statistical analyses. METHODS: In a multi-country study of 29,820 male workers employed in road paving, asphalt mixing and roofing, 32,245 ground and building construction workers and 17,757 other workers from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, with mortality that was documented from 1953-2000. Exposures to bitumen fume, coal tar, 4-6 ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organic vapor, diesel exhaust, asbestos, and silica dust were assessed via a job-exposure matrix. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on national mortality rates, as well as relative risks (RRs) based on Poisson regression models were calculated. RESULTS: The SMR of lung cancer among workers exposed to bitumen fume (1.08, 95% CI 0.99-1.18) was comparable to that of non-exposed workers (SMR 1.05, 95% CI 0.92-1.19). In a sub-cohort of bitumen-exposed workers without exposure to coal tar, the SMR of lung cancer was 1.23 (95% CI 1.02-1.48). The analysis based on the semi-quantitative, matrix-based exposures in the whole cohort did not suggest an increased lung cancer risk following exposure to bitumen fume. However, in an analysis restricted to road pavers, based on quantitative estimate of bitumen fume exposure, a dose-response was suggested for average level of exposure, applying a 15-year lag, which was marginally reduced after adjustment for co-exposure to coal tar. The results for cancer of the head and neck were similar to those of lung cancer, although they were based on a smaller number of deaths. There was no clear suggestion of an association with bitumen fume for any other neoplasm. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the analysis by bitumen fume exposure do not allow us to conclude on the presence or absence of a causal link between exposure to bitumen fume and risk of cancer of the lung and the head and neck.
BACKGROUND: Inhalation of bitumen fumes is potentially carcinogenic to humans. METHODS: We conducted a study of 29,820 male workers exposed to bitumen in road paving, asphalt mixing and roofing, 32,245 ground and building construction workers unexposed to bitumen, and 17,757 workers not classifiable as bitumen workers, from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, with mortality follow-up during 1953-2000. We calculated standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on national mortality rates. Poisson regression analyses compared mortality of bitumen workers to that of building or ground construction workers. RESULTS: The overall mortality was below expectation in the total cohort (SMR 0.92, 95% CI 0.90-0.94) and in each group of workers. The SMR of lung cancer was higher among bitumen workers (1.17, 95% CI 1.04-1.30) than among workers in ground and building construction (SMR 1.01, 95% CI 0.89-1.15). In the internal comparison, the relative risk (RR) of lung cancer mortality among bitumen workers was 1.09 (95% CI 0.89-1.34). The results of cancer of the head and neck were similar to those of lung cancer, based on a smaller number of deaths. There was no suggestion of an association between employment in bitumen jobs and other cancers. CONCLUSIONS: European workers employed in road paving, asphalt mixing and other jobs entailing exposure to bitumen fume might have experienced a small increase in lung cancer mortality risk, compared to workers in ground and building construction. However, exposure assessment was limited and confounding from exposure to carcinogens in other industries, tobacco smoking, and other lifestyle factors cannot be ruled out.
Background We conducted a nested case-control study in a cohort of European asphalt workers in which we have previously reported an increase in lung cancer risk among workers exposed to airborne bitumen fume, although potential bias and confounding were not fully addressed. Objective To investigate the contribution of exposure to bitumen, other occupational agents, and tobacco smoking, to the lung cancer risk of asphalt workers. Methods Cases were cohort members in Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Israel who died from lung cancer between 1980 and the end of follow-up (2002-2005). Controls were individually matched to cases (3:1) on year of birth and country. Exposure estimates were derived for bitumen fume and condensate, organic vapour, PAH, as well as for asbestos, crystalline silica, diesel motor exhaust and coal tar. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated for ever exposure, duration, average and cumulative exposure, after adjusting for tobacco smoking and exposure to coal tar. Results A total of 433 cases and 1253 controls were included in the analysis. The OR for inhalation exposure to bitumen fume was 1.12 (95% CI 0.84-1.49), and for dermal exposure to bitumen condensate 1.17 (95% CI 0.88-1.56). There was no significant trend between lung cancer risk and duration, average or cumulative exposure to bitumen fume or condensate. Conclusions We found no consistent evidence of an association between indicators of either inhalation or dermal exposure to bitumen and lung cancer risk. A sizable proportion of the excess mortality from lung cancer relative to the general population observed in the earlier cohort phase is likely attributable to high tobacco consumption, and possibly to coal tar exposure, while other occupational agents do not appear to play an important role.
BACKGROUND: An exposure matrix (EM) for known and suspected carcinogens was required for a multicenter international cohort study of cancer risk and bitumen among asphalt workers. METHODS: Production characteristics in companies enrolled in the study were ascertained through use of a company questionnaire (CQ). Exposures to coal tar, bitumen fume, organic vapor, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, diesel fume, silica, and asbestos were assessed semi-quantitatively using information from CQs, expert judgment, and statistical models. Exposures of road paving workers to bitumen fume, organic vapor, and benzo(a)pyrene were estimated quantitatively by applying regression models, based on monitoring data, to exposure scenarios identified by the CQs. RESULTS: Exposures estimates were derived for 217 companies enrolled in the cohort, plus the Swedish asphalt paving industry in general. Most companies were engaged in road paving and asphalt mixing, but some also participated in general construction and roofing. Coal tar use was most common in Denmark and The Netherlands, but the practice is now obsolete. Quantitative estimates of exposure to bitumen fume, organic vapor, and benzo(a)pyrene for pavers, and semi-quantitative estimates of exposure to these agents among all subjects were strongly correlated. Semi-quantitative estimates of exposure to bitumen fume and coal tar exposures were only moderately correlated. EM assessed non-monotonic historical decrease in exposures to all agents assessed except silica and diesel exhaust. CONCLUSIONS: We produced a data-driven EM using methodology that can be adapted for other multicenter studies.
Previous studies of paper machine operators have to a large extent focused on endotoxins as a possible health hazard, but not culturable micro-organisms (MOs).
Based on exposure assessment in 11 paper mills workers exposed to culturable bio-aerosols were grouped in three exposure groups. 781 exposed and 285 unexposed workers completed a questionnaire that provided data pertaining to infections and associated symptoms.
Concentrations of culturable bacteria in process waters varied in the range 10(4)-10(6) colony forming units (cfu)/ml, and in bio-aerosols concentrations varied typically in the range 10(4)-->10(5) cfu/m3. Operators exposed to bio-aerosols reported higher cumulative incidence of symptoms associated with infections compared to the reference population (ORs = 1.7-5.9), and the group of highest exposed workers reported higher cumulative incidence than the group of lowest exposed (ORs = 1.2-3.6).
Exposure to bio-aerosols containing culturable MOs may induce symptoms associated with infections among operators in paper mills.
The long-term prognosis of repeated acute episodes of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) is not well described. We report on a 10-year follow-up of a 10-person cluster from a Norwegian sawmill who had all experienced relapsing episodes of HP.
To evaluate the health symptoms, work-related sick-leave, and lung function of 10 workers exposed to mold in a Norwegian sawmill.
Participants were evaluated at baseline and 10 years later at follow-up. A structured interview, measurement of serum IgG antibodies to Rhizopus microsporus (R. microsporus) antigens, lung function tests, high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) of the chest, and personal measurements of exposure to mold spores and dust were completed for each participant.
At baseline, nearly all workers reported acute episodes of HP more than twice a month. At follow-up, both the frequency and intensity of symptoms had declined. Sick-leave was reduced and gas diffusing capacity improved - paralleling the gradually reduced air levels of mold spores.
In spite of an initially high occurrence of symptoms, long-term clinical and physiological outcome was good. With reduced exposure to mold spores, symptoms declined and lung function was restored.
The possible associations between asphalt work and mortality from non-malignant diseases in a cohort of male Norwegian asphalt workers that formed part of the European asphalt worker mortality study are examined.
The mortality experience among 8,610 male workers ever employed in asphalt work was observed from 01.01.1970 until 12.31.1996, yielding 127,636 person years of observation. The cause-specific deaths observed in the study cohort were compared with the expected figures calculated from 5-year period- and age-specific national death rates. A study-specific job exposure matrix was used for individual-individual exposure estimates.
Eight hundred and three workers died during the observation period (SMR = 0.92, 95% confidence intervals (CI) = 0.58, 1.40). The mortality from non-malignant respiratory diseases was elevated (SMR = 1.25, 95%CI = 0.97, 1.58) and was associated with years since first employment in the asphalt industry. Mortality from respiratory diseases was highest among the workers first employed in the 1960s. Among the different job types held by the workers the pavers and mastic asphalt workers had the highest mortality from respiratory diseases. A weak dose-response was found with cumulative exposure to PAH and bitumen fume and mortality from non-malignant respiratory diseases in analyses employing the job-exposure matrix. Overall mortality, the mortality from circulatory diseases (SMR = 0.93, 95%CI = 0.83, 1.03) and external causes (SMR = 0.90, 95%CI = 0.72, 1.11) was lower than expected.
Mortality from respiratory diseases was found somewhat elevated among the asphalt workers. There was some evidence of exposure-response with both bitumen fume and PAH exposure. PAH from coal tar contributes to the PAH exposure.