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 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.
Despite significant reductions, the number of injuries and fatalities in mining remains high. A persistent area of concern continues to be equipment-related incidents.
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Current Population Survey (CPS) data were used to examine equipment-related injuries over the period 1995-2004. Incidents were reviewed to determine which types of mining equipment were most often involved and to identify and characterize trends.
Non-powered hand tools was the equipment category most often involved with non-fatal injuries while off-road ore haulage was the most common source of fatalities.
Younger employees had an elevated risk of injury while workers >55 years had an elevated risk for fatality. A large majority of incidents involve workers with
The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of cancer among 318 male employees of a niobium mining company which was only operated between 1951 and 1965. Many of the workers, especially underground miners, were exposed to the daughters of radon and thoron and also to thorium. The accumulated doses to the workers from short-lived radon and thoron daughters in the mine atmosphere were assessed to be relatively low; up to 300 working-level months. During the follow-up period 1953-1981, 24 new cases of cancer were observed compared to an expected number of 22.8. Twelve cases of lung cancer had occurred versus 3.0 expected. Among the 77 miners, 9 cases of lung cancer were observed against 0.8 expected. Associations between the occurrence of lung cancer and exposure to alpha radiation and smoking were found. For the radon and thoron daughter exposure, about 50 excess cases per million person-years at risk per working-level month were observed.
To evaluate occupational cancer mortality in British Columbia, we calculated the age-standardized proportional mortality ratios (PMR) and proportional cancer mortality ratios (PCMR) for 4,091 woodworkers, 5,457 loggers, 2,020 fishermen, 4,066 farmers, and 1,912 miners. Woodworkers 20-65 years old had significantly elevated risks of death from stomach cancer (PCMR = 128, P less than .01) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (PCMR = 140, P less than .05). Loggers appear to have an elevated risk of death from nasal sinus tumors (PCMR = 364, P less than .05). Fishermen had an elevated risk of stomach cancer (PCMR = 168, P less than .01). Farmers in British Columbia appeared to have excess risks of stomach (PCMR = 136, P less than .01) and liver cancer (PCMR = 173, P less than .05), but decreased risk from lung cancer (PCMR = 76, P less than .01). Miners had an elevated risk of death from lung cancer (PCMR = 127, P less than .05) and primary eye tumors (PCMR = 569, P less than .05).
A retrospective cohort study was undertaken to investigate the cancer mortality of granite workers. The study comprised 1,026 workers hired between 1940 and 1971. The number of person-years was 20,165, and the number of deaths 235. During the total follow-up 46 tumors were observed and 44.9 were expected. An excess mortality from tumors was observed for the workers followed for 20 years or more, the greatest excess occurring during the follow-up period of 25-29 years (observed 11, expected 5.2). Of the 46 tumors, 22 were lung cancers (expected 17.1) and 15 were gastrointestinal cancers (expected 9.7), nine of which were cancers of the stomach (expected 6.0). Mortality from lung cancer was excessive for workers with at least 15 years since entry into granite work (latency) (21 observed and 9.5 expected), being highest during the follow-up period of 25-29 years (observed 8, expected 2.1). The results indicate that granite exposure per se may be an etiologic factor in the initiation or promotion of malignant neoplasms.
It has been suspected for many years that amphibole fibres in the tremolite series, a low level contaminant of chrysotile asbestos, may contribute disproportionately to the incidence of mesothelioma and perhaps other exposure-related cancers. A cohort of some 11,000 Quebec chrysotile workers, 80% of whom have now died, provided the opportunity to examine this hypothesis further. An analysis was made of deaths from mesothelioma (21), cancers of the lung (262), larynx (15), stomach (99), and colon and rectum (76), in men employed by the largest company in Thetford Mines, with closely matched referents. Risks were estimated by logistic regression for these five cancers in two groups of mines--five mines located centrally and ten mines located peripherally; tremolite contamination had been demonstrated to be some four times higher in the former than in the latter. Odds ratios for work in the central mines were raised substantially and significantly for mesothelioma and lung cancer, but not for the gastric, intestinal or laryngeal cancer sites. In the peripheral mines, there was little or no evidence of increased risk for any of the five cancers. The hypothesis that, because of the difference in distribution of fibrous tremolite, cancer risks in the central area would be greater than in the periphery was thus substantiated. That the explanation may lie in the greater biopersistence of amphibole fibres than chrysotile is important in framing policies for the use and control of asbestos and is directly relevant to the selection of man-made mineral fibre substitutes.