A standardized proportional mortality study of mortality among workers in auto repair and auto body shops was conducted using union records. The population studied included all auto dealer, auto repair and auto body shop workers active in UAW Local 259 in New York City for two or more years, who died between January 1, 1960 and June 30, 1983 and who had been directly involved in auto servicing or repair. Information on cause of death was available for 455 of 561 workers. An association was found between cancer of the esophagus and latency weighted employment duration. Stomach cancer and cirrhosis of the liver were both elevated. A more than two fold increase in kidney cancer (2 cases) was noted. Nonmalignant respiratory disease (NMRD) was associated with employment duration. A three fold excess in lymphopoietic cancer, particularly multiple myeloma, was reported in black workers and a small excess (10 to 20 percent) in arteriosclerotic heart disease deaths was noted for both white and black workers. Deaths due to chronic rheumatic heart disease were also elevated in the study population. The authors conclude that the observations support the hypothesis that disabling health conditions are arising from work related exposures in this population and recommend that industrial hygiene assessment be performed in the automotive maintenance industry and that appropriate controls be provided where higher risks are identified.
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