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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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
One of objective methods of early and differential diagnosis of occupational pulmonary diseases in miners (pneumoconiosis, silicotuberculosis, dust bronchitis) is bronchoscopy with a cytologic examination of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BAF). BAF-examination was carried out in a total of 88 patients with incipient and advanced forms of dust bronchitis, pneumoconiosis and silicotuberculosis. A direct relationship has been revealed between a decline in local cell-bound immunity caused by a dust-inducted affection mononuclear phagocytes and advancing of stages of dust-related diseases.
New material was presented from pending publications arising from the follow-up to 1988 of the Quebec cohort of over 10,000 chrysotile miners and millers born 1891-1920. In reviewing these and previous findings, the following conclusions were drawn; they are supported, insofar as this is possible, by the only other relevant information, that from Balangero, in Northern Italy. There is strong evidence that the risk of lung cancer as a result of exposure to chrysotile at concentrations of less than 15 million particles per cubic foot is vanishingly small. At higher concentrations, the relative risk of lung cancer is elevated, but less so in smokers of 20 or more cigarettes a day than in others. The magnitude of this risk cannot be evaluated with any certainty, but this is unimportant as these higher concentrations (above about 50 f ml-1) are well outside the range of experience nowadays. There is no evidence that the risk of laryngeal cancer or of stomach cancer are adversely affected by exposure to chrysotile. Nor is there evidence of increased risks of other abdominal malignancies or of kidney cancer among chrysotile miners and millers. The risk of mesothelioma in chrysotile miners and millers is very low compared with the risks in populations exposed to amphiboles or to mixtures of fibres including even small proportions of amphiboles.
OBJECTIVES: To study the carcinogenicity of inorganic mercury in humans. METHODS: We studied the mortality from cancer among 6784 male and 265 female workers of four mercury mines and mills in Spain, Slovenia, Italy and the Ukraine. Workers were employed between the beginning of the century and 1990; the follow-up period lasted from the 1950s to the 1990s. We compared the mortality of the workers with national reference rates. RESULTS: Among men, there was no overall excess cancer mortality; an increase was observed in mortality from lung cancer (standardized mortality ratio [SMR] 1.19, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] 1.03-1.38) and liver cancer (SMR 1.64, CI 1.18-2.22). The increase in lung cancer risk was restricted to workers from Slovenia and the Ukraine: no relationship was found with duration of employment or estimated mercu ry exposure. The increase in liver cancer risk was present both among miners and millers and was stronger in workers from Italy and Slovenia: there was a trend with estimated cumulative exposure but not with duration of employment, and the excess was not present in a parallel analysis of cancer incidence among workers from Slovenia. No increase was observed for other types of cancer, including brain and kidney tumours. Among female workers (Ukraine only), three deaths occurred from ovarian cancer, likely representing an excess. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to inorganic mercury in mines and mills does not seem strongly associated with cancer risk, with the possible exception of liver cancer; the increase in lung cancer may be explained by co-exposure to crystalline silica and radon.
A cohort of 54,128 men who worked in Ontario mines was observed for mortality between 1955 and 1986. Most of these men worked in nickel, gold, or uranium mines; a few worked in silver, iron, lead/zinc, or other ore mines. If mortality that occurred after a man had started to mine uranium was excluded, an excess of carcinoma of the lung was found among the 13,603 Ontario gold miners in the study (standardised mortality ratio (SMR) 129, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 115-145) and in men who began to mine nickel before 1936 (SMR 141, 95% CI 105-184). The excess mortality from lung cancer in the gold miners was confined to men who began gold mining before 1946. No increase in the mortality from carcinoma of the lung was evident in men who began mining gold after the end of 1945, in men who began mining nickel after 1936, or in men who mined ores other than gold, nickel, and uranium. In the gold mines each year of employment before the end of 1945 was associated with a 6.5% increase in mortality from lung cancer 20 or more years after the miner began working the mines (95% CI 1.6-11.4%); each year of employment before the end of 1945 in mines in which the host rock contained 0.1% arsenic was associated with a 3.1% increase in lung cancer 20 years or more after exposure began (95% CI 1.1-5.1%); and each working level month of exposure to radon decay products was associated with a 1.2% increase in mortality from lung cancer five or more years after exposure began (95% CI 0.02-2.4%). A comparison of two models shows that the excess of lung cancer mortality in Ontario gold miners is associated with exposure to high dust concentrations before 1946, with exposure to arsenic before 1946, and with exposure to radon decay products. No association between the increased incidence of carcinoma of the lung in Ontario gold miners and exposure to mineral fibre could be detected. It is concluded that the excess of carcinoma of the lung in Ontario gold miners is probably due to exposure to arsenic and radon decay products.
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Relation between the risk of lung cancer and combined home and work indoor radon exposure was studied on the example of the population of Lermontov town (Stavropol Region, Russia). The town is situated in the former uranium mining area. Case (121 lung cancer cases) and control (196 individuals free of lung cancer diagnosis) groups of the study included both ex-miners and individuals that were not involved in the uranium industry. Home and work radon exposures were estimated using archive data as well as contemporary indoor measurements. The results of our study support the conclusion about the effect of radon exposure on the lung cancer morbidity.
Miners working in deep coal mines, engaged in hard physical work under most harsh mine conditions demonstrate a striking imbalance between pro- and antiinflammatory cytokines and a rise in the blood levels of electrolytes K+ and Na+ as well. The analysis performed revealed a direct correlation between the level of blood concentration of IL-6 and that of K+, Na+.