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Lung Cancer Mortality in Workers Exposed to Sulfuric Acid Mist and Other Acid Mists in Steel Pickling Operations.

Beaumont JJ; Leveton J; Knox K; Bloom T; McQuiston T; Young M; Goldsmith R; Steenland NK; Brown DP; Halperin WE
NIOSH :38 pages
A total of 1165 steel workers who had been exposed to sulfuric-acid (7664939) and other acid mists during steel pickling operations were studied to determine whether there was any evidence of respiratory cancer which could be linked to these exposures. These workers had been employed at three large midwestern steel manufacturing operations where acid was used to remove oxides from newly produced steel. Cancer of the trachea, bronchus, and lung showed increased mortality in this study. Deaths from buccal cavity, pharynx, and larynx cancers were at normal levels. Deaths from nonmalignant respiratory diseases were lower than normal rates. The excess lung cancer cases occurred both in workers who had been exposed only to sulfuric-acid mists and in those exposed only to other acids. Workers with daily exposure to sulfuric-acid were at higher risk. No indication was found that length of employment was a significant factor in those exposed daily; however, all of the excess risk occurred 20 years after the first exposure. When compared to other steel workers to obtain findings related to cigarette smoking and other lifestyle factors, the mortality ratios for lung cancer were generally smaller. Smoking itself did not appear to have been a factor. The authors conclude that there was an increased risk of lung cancer in workers exposed to sulfuric-acid and in workers exposed to other acids. Continued monitoring of lung cancer rates is recommended by the authors since other acids have replaced sulfuric-acid to a great degree.
NIOSH-Author; Lung-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Sulfuric-acid-mists; Steelworkers; Steel-industry; Steel-foundries; Acids; Mists; Lung-cancer;
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Industrywide Studies Branch, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cincinnati, Ohio, 38 pages, 29 references
Page last reviewed: February 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division