Any review of the scientific evidence on which public policy is based must commence with a cautionary statement about the quality of the available data both about dust and about asbestos-related disease. Attention is drawn to some of the main problems. It is concluded that, in spite of their shortcomings, the data are sufficiently consistent to be useful in relation to some aspects of the problem of environmental control of the asbestos hazard. The question whether or not there is a threshold dose of fibre below which no biological effect occurs is of considerable importance in framing public policy. The evidence concerning the existence or otherwise of a threshold in relation to the different asbestos-related diseases is summarized. A summary is also given of the evidence about the shape of the dose-response curves for asbestos-related diseases in man. The paper concludes with a note on how scientific data may be summarized in a manner which may be helpful in formulating public policy with regard to a control limit.
A 25% lower cancer mortality was found for 1360 Swedish fishermen who fished on the Baltic Sea than for the general population. The fishermen consumed twice as much fish as the population in the same county. In spite of the low overall cancer mortality, increased mortality from myeloma, as well as increased incidences of gastric carcinoma and squamous cell cancer of the skin and lips, was observed in the cohort. The decrease in risk for ischemic heart disease was not significant. Whether the dietary intake of fatty acids and selenium from fish contributed to the decreased risk was difficult to evaluate. Moreover, whether the consumption of fish from the Baltic Sea, contaminated with, for example, polychlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans and other persistent organochlorine substances, contributed to the observed increased specific cancer risks is not known. However, the net health effect of high fish consumption from the Baltic Sea seems to be positive.
AIMS: To assess whether cancer incidence and mortality in chronic obstructive lung diseases were increased in the Swedish polyurethane foam industry cohort, updated with 11 more years of follow up. METHODS: The mortality and cancer incidence (1959-98) experienced by a cohort of 4175 male and female employees employed for at least one year in the period 1959-87 at one of nine Swedish polyurethane foaming plants were investigated. Comparisons were based on calendar year, sex, and five-year age group specific mortality and incidence rates for Sweden. Workplaces and job tasks were categorically assessed for exposure to toluene diisocyanate (TDI) and methylene diphenyldiisocyanate (MDI) by occupational hygienists. RESULTS: Fewer cancer cases than expected were observed, but the lung cancer incidence was enhanced in women. Women with "apparent exposure" to TDI or MDI did not, however, have a higher lung cancer incidence than those with "no or low exposure". Moreover, a nested case referent study did not find that polyurethane dust exposure had been more prevalent among the female lung cancer cases than among referents. No increased mortality in chronic obstructive lung diseases was observed in the cohort. CONCLUSIONS: Results support the findings from two other cohort studies of an increased lung cancer risk among female workers in the polyurethane foam manufacturing industry. Chance or confounding from smoking are not obvious explanations for the coherent findings. However, the study was not able to link isocyanate exposed employment with lung cancer risk.
Over 629,000 people reside in the catchment area for the Northeastern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre. Historically, the area was renowned for employment in mining, forestry and lumbering, agriculture, the railway, and pulp and paper. At present, it is known for mining; community, business, and personal services; trade; manufacturing; and construction. Comparison of cancer incidence and mortality trends for two decades (1971-1980 and 1981-1990) with those of Ontario has revealed statistically significant excesses, at the 5% level or better, of trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer cases (SIR = 123 for 1971-1980 and 125 for 1981-1990) and deaths in men (SMR = 116 and 125, respectively); for women, excesses were observed for trachea, bronchus and lung cancer case (SIR = 114 and 118), and cervical cancer cases (SIR = 142 and 115) and deaths (SMR = 133 and 128). Enhanced recruitment strategies and early educational interventions are identified as priorities.
Erratum In: Can J Public Health 1996 Mar-Apr;87(2):83
OBJECTIVE--The objective of this study was to provide an extended follow-up of workers in three Swedish plants producing man-made vitreous fibers (MMVF). METHOD--Mortality and cancer incidence was investigated among 3539 male and female workers, employed for at least one year before 1978. Mortality was followed from 1952 to 1990 and cancer incidence from 1958 to 1989. National and regional mortality and cancer incidence rates were used to calculate the expected numbers. RESULTS--Twenty-seven lung cancer deaths were observed compared with 23 expected (standardized mortality ratio 117, 95% confidence interval 81-176), based on regional mortality. With a latency time of 30 years, the lung cancer risk was significantly elevated, but not trend was found for the standardized mortality ratio with increasing duration of exposure to MMVF. The lung cancer and stomach cancer mortality was higher in the rock wool industry than in the fiber glass industry. Fiber exposure from 1938 to 1990 was estimated in the two rock wool plants by applying a model for historical fiber exposure estimation, specific for different job titles in the rock wool production industry. No relationship was found between individually cumulated rock wool fiber exposure and lung cancer or stomach cancer risk. CONCLUSIONS--The numbers of lung cancers and stomach cancer cases were low and did not therefore allow more general conclusions regarding the cancer hazard for exposed workers. A large European study in progress will probably allow more precise conclusions.
The mortality pattern among 86 men was determined to investigate the possible hazards of polishing steel. The men had polished steel with polishing paste for at least five years. The polishing pastes had contained tallow, beeswax, carnauba wax, alundum, carborundum, ferric oxide, and chalk. A total of 18 men had died compared with 13.3 expected. Four had died of stomach cancer compared with 0.44 expected (p less than 0.005). The mortality for other causes of death was not increased. The study does not permit any definite conclusion but indicates a possible cancer hazard among polishers.
BACKGROUND: An increased risk of lung cancers among asphalt workers has been suggested in epidemiological studies based on large scale statistical analyses. METHODS: In a multi-country study of 29,820 male workers employed in road paving, asphalt mixing and roofing, 32,245 ground and building construction workers and 17,757 other workers from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, with mortality that was documented from 1953-2000. Exposures to bitumen fume, coal tar, 4-6 ring polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, organic vapor, diesel exhaust, asbestos, and silica dust were assessed via a job-exposure matrix. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on national mortality rates, as well as relative risks (RRs) based on Poisson regression models were calculated. RESULTS: The SMR of lung cancer among workers exposed to bitumen fume (1.08, 95% CI 0.99-1.18) was comparable to that of non-exposed workers (SMR 1.05, 95% CI 0.92-1.19). In a sub-cohort of bitumen-exposed workers without exposure to coal tar, the SMR of lung cancer was 1.23 (95% CI 1.02-1.48). The analysis based on the semi-quantitative, matrix-based exposures in the whole cohort did not suggest an increased lung cancer risk following exposure to bitumen fume. However, in an analysis restricted to road pavers, based on quantitative estimate of bitumen fume exposure, a dose-response was suggested for average level of exposure, applying a 15-year lag, which was marginally reduced after adjustment for co-exposure to coal tar. The results for cancer of the head and neck were similar to those of lung cancer, although they were based on a smaller number of deaths. There was no clear suggestion of an association with bitumen fume for any other neoplasm. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the analysis by bitumen fume exposure do not allow us to conclude on the presence or absence of a causal link between exposure to bitumen fume and risk of cancer of the lung and the head and neck.
We have updated the follow-up of cancer mortality for a cohort study of man-made vitreous fiber production workers from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy, from 1982 to 1990. In the mortality analysis, 22,002 production workers contributed 489,551 person-years, during which there were 4,521 deaths. Workers with less than 1 year of employment had an increased mortality [standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.37-1.53]. Workers with 1 year or more of employment, contributing 65% of person-years, had an SMR of 1.05 (95% CI = 1.02-1.09). The SMR for lung cancer was 1.34 (95% CI = 1.08-1.63, 97 deaths) among rock/slag wool workers and 1.27 (95% CI = 1.07-1.50, 140 deaths) among glass wool workers. In the latter group, no increase was present when local mortality rates were used. Among rock/slag wool workers, the risk of lung cancer increased with time-since-first-employment and duration of employment. The trend in lung cancer mortality according to technologic phase at first employment was less marked than in the previous follow-up. We obtained similar results from a Poisson regression analysis limited to rock/slag wool workers. Five deaths from pleural mesothelioma were reported, which may not represent an excess. There was no apparent excess for other categories of neoplasm. Tobacco smoking and other factors linked to social class, as well as exposures in other industries, appear unlikely to explain the whole increase in lung cancer mortality among rock/slag wool workers. Limited data on other agents do not indicate an important role of asbestos, slag, or bitumen. These results are not sufficient to conclude that the increased lung cancer risk is the result of exposure to rock/slag wool; however, insofar as respirable fibers were an important component of the ambient pollution of the working environment, they may have contributed to the increased risk.