A mortality survey among grey-iron (11097157) foundry (SIC-3321) workers was conducted. The cohort consisted of 278 male hourly workers having at least 10 years of experience who died between January 1, 1970 and December 31, 1981. The cohort was traced from company records, death certificates, and interviews with union officials or other retirees. Proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) were computed and categorized according to job title of the deceased workers. Among 221 white males, the principal causes of death were: nonmalignant respiratory disease, PMR 177; lung cancer, PMR 148; and leukemia, PMR 284. Workers in the finishing department had significant excess mortality due to nonmalignant respiratory disease (PMR 279) and lung cancer (PMR 179). A PMR of 321 for nonmalignant respiratory disease occurred among core room workers. Significant and insignificant correlations between deaths due to nonmalignant respiratory disease and lung cancer, respectively, and employment in the finishing department occurred. Among nonwhite workers, a significant excess of circulatory disease mortality (PMR 143) occurred for those 60 or more years old at the time of death. The authors conclude that the excess malignant and nonmalignant respiratory disease mortality cannot be explained by age or smoking. Iron foundries are extremely hazardous work environments.
NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio