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.
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.
Within a case-control study of male lung carcinoma in northern Sweden combined effects of underground mining (iron ore mines) and smoking were analysed. A synergistic effect was found approximately of multiplicative type. Cases with lung carcinoma exposed to underground mining had a considerably lower average cumulative tobacco consumption than other lung carcinoma cases as an expression of the fact that smoking is particularly dangerous in underground miners. Small cell undifferentiated carcinoma was overrepresented among the cases exposed to underground mining and were especially often low tobacco consumers. In the 2 municipalities where the iron mines were located 74 per cent of the male lung carcinoma incidence could be explained by smoking and 55 per cent by underground mining (etiologic fractions).
Finland is used as a model in attempts to study the possible association of the incidence of lung cancer and exposure of population to fossil fuel combustion products. Unfortunately because of great geographical variation of unknown origin in the incidence of lung cancer in Finland, detailed studies of the possible role of an individual exposure in the lung cancer risk are not possible. This background variation in the incidence is much greater than variation carried by any known etiological factor and does not clearly correlate with the degree of urbanization, industrialization, regional use of fossil fuels, number of motor vehicles or smoking habits. To get more precise information on the possible association of lung cancer incidence with exposure to fossil fuel combustion products, occupational studies serve as powerful tools. The definition of population is more reliable and the measurement of exposures can be done more precisely; moreover the management of confounding and modifying factors is more effective than in community studies. So far the studies carried out among the Finnish working population exposed to PAH compounds reveal an association between the lung cancer risk and exposure to PAHs.
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Kreuzer and coworkers recently reported no association between cumulative exposure to radiation and death from cardiovascular disease in a cohort of German uranium miners. Here, we report on the relationship between cumulative exposure to radon progeny and coronary heart disease among Newfoundland fluorspar miners. Previous analyses in this cohort found elevated death rates from coronary heart disease among those with higher cumulative radon exposure. However, this finding was based on a relatively small number of deaths and was not statistically significant. Since then, the follow-up of this cohort has been extended by 10 years until the end of 2001. Among the 2,070 miners in our study, 267 died from coronary heart disease. There was no trend evident between cumulative exposure to radon and the relative risk of death from coronary heart disease (P = 0.63). This finding was unchanged after adjusting for the lifetime smoking status that was available for approximately 54% of the cohort. Similarly, the cumulative radon exposure was found to be unrelated to deaths of the circulatory system, acute myocardial infarction, and cerebrovascular disease. These findings are consistent with those recently reported by Kreuzer and colleagues. We share their view that uncontrolled confounding for other coronary heart disease risk factors hinders the interpretation of the risk estimates.
Autopsied lungs from 29 hard rock miners were investigated to determine the relationship of the dust content to pathology, radiology, and occupational exposure.
Each lung was divided horizontally into three sections. Pathological and radiological studies and chemical analyses were carried out on samples from each section. The hilar lymph nodes were also studied chemically. The work history and smoking history were assessed. The occupational exposure to silica and total dust were estimated. The effect of smoking was examined, and the relationship between dust content of the lungs to that of the lymph nodes were also investigated.
There was a good agreement between radiologic and pathologic findings. Positive correlations were seen between hydroxyproline (as an index of fibrosis), silica dust, non-silica inorganic dust, radiographic category of pneumoconiosis and pathologic grade of silicosis. Smokers lost on average 7 years of life compared to non-smokers, but numbers were small and no adjustment was made. Silica appeared to be concentrated in lungs and lymph nodes compared to the estimates of silica concentration in the mining environment. Silica in the lymph nodes on average is 2.4-fold higher than in the lungs.
This study of autopsied hard rock miners lungs shows positive relationships between lung dust and hydroxyproline content, radiological and pathological findings.
A high mortality from lung cancer among miners was reported from Central Europe already in the 19th century. In the 60s and 70s several reports have indicated an increased lung cancer mortality among uranium miners and other metal-miners, e.g. in the US, UK, France and Sweden, but also among fluorspar miners in Canada. The cause is supposed to be the decay products of radon as emanating from the rocks, i.e. the alpha-radiation from short-lived radon daughters. Radon and radon daughter exposure in dwellings have more recently attracted interest as a potential hazard to the general population, especially since radon daughter concentrations seem to have increased due to more effective insulation for energy saving. In many Swedish houses the radon daughter exposures amount to levels similar to that of mines. Some epidemiological evaluations of the relationship between lung cancer and exposure to radon daughters, i.e. residency in stone houses versus wooden houses (with and without consideration of the contribution of radon from the ground underneath the houses), seem to indicate a risk also to the general population and, moreover, the risk of smoking seems to be several times greater in stone houses than in wooden houses, the latter usually having less radon daughters on the average.
To define the relationships between chrysotile exposure in fibre terms and death from specific cancers, and pneumoconiosis, all 11,379 persons born 1891-1920 who had worked in the asbestos mines and mills of Quebec for a month or more before 1967 were followed to the end of 1975. Among the 10,939 men, there had been 4,463 deaths, 634 from these causes. For each death, referents were randomly selected from among men in the cohort born in the same year as the case and known to have survived to a greater age. For each case and his referents, exposures accumulated up to nine years before the death of the case had been obtained as (million particles per cubic foot) x years. Fibre counts were estimated for each work-place so that all exposures could be expressed in (fibres/ml) x years. The ratio of the means for all 2,586 accumulated exposures was 3.46 (f/ml)/mpcf. Relative Risks (RR) were related to exposure by matched analysis. For pneumoconiosis and lung cancer, RR = 1 + b.(f/ml).y fitted well, with b estimated as 0.00647 and 0.00038, respectively. For cancers of upper and of lower G.I. tract, severe exposure was associated with elevated RRs, but rather unclearly. For other abdominal cancers, and laryngeal cancer, risks and exposure were not positively associated. The asbestos-smoking interaction in lung cancer was closer to multiplicative than to additive.