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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Health administrative data can be a valuable tool for disease surveillance and research. Few studies have rigorously evaluated the accuracy of administrative databases for identifying rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Our aim was to validate administrative data algorithms to identify RA patients in Ontario, Canada.
We performed a retrospective review of a random sample of 450 patients from 18 rheumatology clinics. Using rheumatologist-reported diagnosis as the reference standard, we tested and validated different combinations of physician billing, hospitalization, and pharmacy data.
One hundred forty-nine rheumatology patients were classified as having RA and 301 were classified as not having RA based on our reference standard definition (study RA prevalence 33%). Overall, algorithms that included physician billings had excellent sensitivity (range 94-100%). Specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) were modest to excellent and increased when algorithms included multiple physician claims or specialist claims. The addition of RA medications did not significantly improve algorithm performance. The algorithm of "(1 hospitalization RA code ever) OR (3 physician RA diagnosis codes [claims] with =1 by a specialist in a 2-year period)" had a sensitivity of 97%, specificity of 85%, PPV of 76%, and negative predictive value of 98%. Most RA patients (84%) had an RA diagnosis code present in the administrative data within ±1 year of a rheumatologist's documented diagnosis date.
We demonstrated that administrative data can be used to identify RA patients with a high degree of accuracy. RA diagnosis date and disease duration are fairly well estimated from administrative data in jurisdictions of universal health care insurance.
The risk of arsenic exposure to deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) living in areas of naturally and anthropogenically elevated arsenic levels was determined using three separate calculations of arsenic daily intake: Estimated daily intake (EDI), bioaccessible EDI (BEDI), and actual daily intake (ADI). The present work is of particular interest, because the risk assessments were determined for animals naturally exposed to arsenic. Gastric fluid extraction was used to obtain bioaccessibility data for soil and plant samples collected from three study sites (background, mine forest, and tailings) in Yellowknife (NT, Canada). Calculations using the EDI indicated that deer mice living in tailings habitat (average soil arsenic concentration, 1,740 +/- 2,240 microg/g) should have been experiencing serious health effects as a result of their exposure to arsenic. Using BEDI and ADI in the risk assessment calculation, however, resulted in an order-of-magnitude decrease in calculated risk. In addition, results calculated using the BEDI and ADI were not significantly different, suggesting that using bioaccessibility provides a more realistic estimate of potential risk. The present results provide evidence that the use of EDI in traditional risk assessments may seriously overestimate the actual risk, which in some instances may result in expensive and unnecessary clean-up measures.
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.
Understanding the biogeochemical cycling of mercury is critical for explaining the presence of mercury in remote regions of the world, such as the Arctic and the Himalayas, as well as local concentrations. While we have good knowledge of present-day fluxes of mercury to the atmosphere, we have little knowledge of what emission levels were like in the past. Here we develop a trend of anthropogenic emissions of mercury to the atmosphere from 1850 to 2008-for which relatively complete data are available-and supplement that trend with an estimate of anthropogenic emissions prior to 1850. Global mercury emissions peaked in 1890 at 2600 Mg yr(-1), fell to 700-800 Mg yr(-1) in the interwar years, then rose steadily after 1950 to present-day levels of 2000 Mg yr(-1). Our estimate for total mercury emissions from human activities over all time is 350 Gg, of which 39% was emitted before 1850 and 61% after 1850. Using an eight-compartment global box-model of mercury biogeochemical cycling, we show that these emission trends successfully reproduce present-day atmospheric enrichment in mercury.
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Novel solutions for sulfide-mine tailings remediation were evaluated in field-scale experiments on a former tailings repository in northern Sweden. Uncovered sulfide-tailings were compared to sewage-sludge biosolid amended tailings over 2 years. An application of a 0.2m single-layer sewage-sludge amendment was unsuccessful at preventing oxygen ingress to underlying tailings. It merely slowed the sulfide-oxidation rate by 20%. In addition, sludge-derived metals (Cu, Ni, Fe, and Zn) migrated and precipitated at the tailings-to-sludge interface. By using an additional 0.6m thick fly-ash sealing layer underlying the sewage sludge layer, a solution to mitigate oxygen transport to the underlying tailings and minimize sulfide-oxidation was found. The fly-ash acted as a hardened physical barrier that prevented oxygen diffusion and provided a trap for sludge-borne metals. Nevertheless, the biosolid application hampered the application, despite the advances in the effectiveness of the fly-ash layer, as sludge-borne nitrate leached through the cover system into the underlying tailings, oxidizing pyrite. This created a 0.3m deep oxidized zone in 6-years. This study highlights that using sewage sludge in unconventional cover systems is not always a practical solution for the remediation of sulfide-bearing mine tailings to mitigate against sulfide weathering and acid rock drainage formation.
The utilisation of data mining methods has become common in many fields. In occupational accident analysis, however, these methods are still rarely exploited. This study applies methods of data mining (decision tree and association rules) to the Finnish national occupational accidents and diseases statistics database to analyse factors related to slipping, stumbling, and falling (SSF) accidents at work from 2006 to 2007. SSF accidents at work constitute a large proportion (22%) of all accidents at work in Finland. In addition, they are more likely to result in longer periods of incapacity for work than other workplace accidents. The most important factor influencing whether or not an accident at work is related to SSF is the specific physical activity of movement. In addition, the risk of SSF accidents at work seems to depend on the occupation and the age of the worker. The results were in line with previous research. Hence the application of data mining methods was considered successful. The results did not reveal anything unexpected though. Nevertheless, because of the capability to illustrate a large dataset and relationships between variables easily, data mining methods were seen as a useful supplementary method in analysing occupational accident data.