This paper draws together the mortality experience for a cohort of some 11000 male Quebec Chrysotile miners and millers, reported at intervals since 1971 and now again updated. Of the 10918 men in the complete cohort, 1138 were lost to view, almost all never traced after employment of only a month or two before 1935; the other 9780 men were traced into 1992. Of these, 8009 (82%) are known to have died: 657 from lung cancer, 38 from mesotheliona, 1205 from other malignant disease, 108 from pneumoconiosis and 561 from other non-malignant respiratory diseases (excluding tuberculosis). After early fluctuations. SMRs (all causes) against Quebec rates have been reasonably steady since about 1945. For men first employed in Asbestos, mine or factory, they were very much what might have been expected for a blue collar population without any hazardous exposure. SMRs in the Thetford Mines area were almost 8% higher, but in line with anecdotal evidence concerning socio-economic status. At exposures below 300 (million particles per cubic foot) x years, (mpcf.y), equivalent to roughly 1000 (fibres/ml) x years-or, say, 10 years in the 1940s at 80 (fibres/ml)-findings were as follows. There were no discernible associations of degree of exposure and SMRs, whether for all causes of death or for all the specific cancer sites examined. The average SMRs were 1.07 (all causes), and 1.16, 0.93, 1.03 and 1.21, respectively, for gastric, other abdominal, laryngeal and lung cancer. Men whose exposures were less then 300 mpcf.y suffered almost one-half of the 146 deaths from pneumoconiosis or mesothelioma; the elimination of these two causes would have reduced these men's SMR (all causes) from 1.07 to approximately 1.06. Thus it is concluded from the viewpoint of mortality that exposure in this industry to less than 300 mpcf.y has been essentially innocuous, although there was a small risk or pneumoconiosis or mesothelioma. Higher exposures have, however, led to excesses, increasing with degree of exposure, of mortality from all causes, and from lung cancer and stomach cancer, but such exposures, of at least 300 mpcf.y, are several orders of magnitude more severe than any that have been seen for many years. The effects of cigarette smoking were much more deleterious than those of dust exposure, not only for lung cancer (the SMR for smokers of 20+ cigarettes a day being 4.6 times higher than that for non-smokers), but also for stomach cancer (2.0 times higher), laryngeal cancer (2.9 times higher), and-most importantly-for all causes (1.6 times higher).
Comment In: Ann Occup Hyg. 1997 Jan;41(1):3-129072948
Comment In: Ann Occup Hyg. 2001 Jun;45(4):329-35; author reply 336-811414250
A cohort of some 11,000 men born 1891-1920 and employed for at least one month in the chrysotile mines and mills of Quebec, was established in 1966 and has been followed ever since. Of the 5351 men surviving into 1976, only 16 could not be traced; 2508 were still alive in 1989, and 2827 had died; by the end of 1992 a further 698 were known to have died, giving an overall mortality of almost 80%. This paper presents the results of analysis of mortality for the period 1976 to 1988 inclusive, obtained by the subject-years method, with Quebec mortality for reference. In many respects the standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) 20 years or more after first employment were similar to those for the period 1951-75--namely, all causes 1.07 (1951-75, 1.09); heart disease 1.02 (1.04); cerebrovascular disease 1.06 (1.07); external causes 1.17 (1.17). The SMR for lung cancer, however, rose from 1.25 to 1.39 and deaths from mesothelioma increased from eight (10 before review) to 25; deaths from respiratory tuberculosis fell from 57 to five. Among men whose exposure by age 55 was at least 300 million particles per cubic foot x years (mpcf.y), the SMR (all causes) was elevated in the two main mining regions, Asbestos and Thetford Mines, and for the small factory in Asbestos; so were the SMRs for lung cancer, ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and respiratory disease other than pneumoconiosis. Except for lung cancer, however, there was little convincing evidence of gradients over four classes of exposure, divided at 30, 100, and 300 mpcf.y. Over seven narrower categories of exposure up to 300 mpcf.y the SMR for lung cancer fluctuated around 1.27 with no indication of trend, but increased steeply above that level. Mortality form pneumoconiosis was strongly related to exposure, and the trend for mesothelioma was not dissimilar. Mortality generally was related systematically to cigarette smoking habit, recorded in life from 99% of survivors into 1976; smokers of 20 or more cigarettes a day had the highest SMRs not only for lung cancer but also for all causes, cancer of the stomach, pancreas, and larynx, and ischaemic heart disease. For lung cancer SMRs increased fivefold with smoking, but the increase with dust exposure was comparatively slight for non-smokers, lower again for ex-smokers, and negligible for smokers of at least 20 cigarettes a day; thus the asbestos-smoking interaction was less than multiplicative. Of the 33 deaths from mesothelioma in the cohort to date, 28 were in miners and millers and five were in employees of a small asbestos products factory where commercial amphiboles had also been used. Preliminary analysis also suggest that the risk of mesothelioma was higher in the mines and mills at Thetford Mines than in those at Asbestos. More detailed studies of these differences and of exposure-response relations for lung cancer are under way.
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An expert evaluation of identifiability of cardiovascular diseases was carried out together with a clinical and functional examination of certain groups of miners of basic underground occupations at different ages and lengths of service, that showed a high incidence of cardiovascular diseases along with a low informative value of methodical approaches, indices and criteria used for their diagnosis in conducting preliminary and periodic health check-ups. To improve the quality of diagnosis of diseases of the circulatory system it is necessary that standardized methods of investigation should be employed together with consistent indices of high informative value as well as a purposive training of physicians.
The study investigated whether occupational accident risks were equally distributed across age categories over time in the context of production reorganization and work rationalization in a Swedish iron ore mine between 1980 and 1993. Three phases of reorganization, defined by productivity levels, and four age categories were related to age-related accident risk ratios using the Poisson-regression method. Accident risk ratios (ARRs) were found systematically to be higher during the two first phases and also for younger workers, in the cases of both nonspecific and specific accident risks. The steady reduction in accident rates observed did not favor all age groups of workers to the same extent. For two accident patterns out of five, workers in their thirties and forties recorded higher ARRs than those in their fifties.
The paper examines age-related accident risks faced by Swedish male iron-ore miners. A retrospective longitudinal analysis of national registers was conducted over a ten-year period using three times periods of five years and five age categories. Age-related accident frequency, characteristics and severity were examined. High accident ratios were rare among older miners whatever the time period, but some accident patterns became substantially more frequent in some older age cohorts over the years. Injuries tended to be more severe in older age groups, all accidents aggregated as well as by accident pattern. It is concluded that inequality in risk exposure between age groups may explain the lower accident ratios found among older workers, but also that the aging of a working population may lead to the application of task-assignment principles that penalize older workers, at least with regard to certain specific accident risks.
Limited data have been collected on the presence of contaminants in the Arctic terrestrial ecosystem, with the exception of radioactive fallout from atmospheric weapons testing. Although southern and temperate biological systems have largely cleansed themselves of radioactive fallout deposited during the 1950s and 1960s, Arctic environments have not. Lichens accumulate radioactivity more than many other plants because of their large surface area and long life span; the presence and persistence of radioisotopes in the Arctic is of concern because of the lichen----reindeer----human ecosystem. Effective biological half-life of cesium 137 is reckoned to be substantially less than its physical half-life. The database on organochlorines in Canadian Arctic terrestrial mammals and birds is very limited, but indications are that the air/plant/animal contaminant pathway is the major route of these compounds into the terrestrial food chain. For terrestrial herbivores, the most abundant organochlorine is usually hexachlorobenzene followed by hexachlorocyclohexane isomers. PCB accumulation favours the hexachlorobiphenyl, pentachlorobiphenyl and heptachlorobiphenyl homologous series. The concentrations of the various classes of organochlorine compounds are substantially lower in terrestrial herbivore tissues than in marine mammal tissues. PCBs and DDT are the most abundant residues in peregrine falcons (a terrestrial carnivore) reaching average levels of 9.2 and 10.4 micrograms.g-1, respectively, more than 10 times higher than other organochlorines and higher than in marine mammals, including the polar bear. Contaminants from local sources include metals from mining activities, hydrocarbons and waste drilling fluids from oil and gas exploration and production, wastes from DEW line sites, naturally occurring radionuclides associated with uranium mineralization, and smoke containing SO2 and H2SO4 aerosol from the Smoking Hills at Cape Bathurst, N.W.T.
The membrane filter (MF) method for evaluating asbestos fibre concentrations was introduced in the 1960s. Before that time the midget impinger (MI) was used in North America, while the long running (LRTP) and regular thermal precipitator (TP) were used in the U.K. All studies from which estimates of long-term health risks can be derived (i.e. those with individual cumulative lifetime exposure estimates) were based on the now obsolete methods. The reliability of converting these indices of exposure to MF equivalent concentrations was reviewed. It was concluded that no overall single factor could be derived for the Quebec mining and milling industry. However, it has been possible to derive conversion factors at the individual mill and work area level. Applying these in one Quebec mortality study analysis based on all jobs held by persons in the cohort gave an overall MF/MI ratio of 3.6. An examination of the confidence intervals surrounding the Quebec data, ratios derived for other chrysotile mines by other investigators, and measurements of fibre concentrations in the 1970s suggest that this was probably not unreasonable. Side-by-side and other measurements were used to convert MI concentrations in the U.S. textile industry to MF fibre concentrations. While conversions involve considerable uncertainty, independent measurements of fibres in the lung tissues of workers from the U.S. textile plant and Quebec mills show that in lungs the ratios of the concentrations of chrysotile to those of tremolite are quite consistent with the ratio of assessed exposures to these fibres in the two industries. There is an apparently higher risk of mesothelioma in one Quebec mining area (Thetford Mines) than in another (Asbestos). A high concentration of fibrous tremolite has been found in the lungs of workers in Thetford. A method of evaluating the extent to which mesothelioma risk in the chrysotile mining industry might be explained by tremolite exposures was proposed. The slope of the lung cancer dose-response relationship for the textile industry is approximately 50 times that for the mining and milling industry. Available data on the length distributions of fibres from Quebec mines and mills (up to 5% > 5 microns) and the Charleston textile plant (up to 21% > 5 microns) and some marginal indication of longer fibres in tissues from Charleston workers suggest that further work specifically addressing differences in the size distributions of long fibres in these industries is needed.
BACKGROUND: The association between occupational quartz exposure and ventilatory function was investigated in men in a general population after adjusting for other potential determinants of outcome. METHODS: All eligible men aged 30-46 years living in western Norway (n = 45,380) were invited to a cross sectional community survey. This included a self administered questionnaire (with respiratory symptoms, smoking habits and occupational exposures), spirometric recordings (using dry wedge below spirometers), and a chest radiograph (65% attendance). Measurements of forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were obtained in 91% (n = 26,803) of those who participated, 26,106 of whom performed successful spirometric tests and had normal chest radiographs and remained for further analysis. Age, body mass index, and technician standardised residuals ((observed minus predicted value)/residual standard error) of maximum FEV1/height2 and FVC/height2 were used as outcome variables for adjusted lung function levels, respectively. RESULTS: Occupational quartz exposure was reported by 13% (n = 3445) of those who participated in the survey, with a mean duration of seven years. Among those exposed to quartz, significant inverse linear relationships were observed between years of exposure and FEV1 level and the ratio of FEV1/FVC, independent of host characteristics. Multiple linear regression analyses showed that the difference in FEV1 associated with each year of quartz exposure was -4.3 ml (95% CI -1.1 to -7.5 ml; p = 0.01) compared with -6.9 ml (95% CI -4.7 to -9.1 ml; p