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Mortality from lung cancer in workers exposed to sulfur dioxide in the pulp and paper industry.

Lee W; Teschke K; Kauppinen T; Andersen A; Jappinen P; Szadkowska I; Pearce N; Persson B; Bergeret A; Facchini L; Kishi R; Kielkowski D; Rix B; Henneberger P; Sunyer J; Colin D; Kogevinas M; Boffetta P
Environ Health Perspect 2002 Oct; 110(10):991-995
Our objective in this study was to evaluate the mortality of workers exposed to sulfur dioxide in the pulp and paper industry. The cohort included 57,613 workers employed for at least 1 year in the pulp and paper industry in 12 countries. We assessed exposure to SO(2) at the level of mill and department, using industrial hygiene measurement data and information from company questionnaires; 40,704 workers were classified as exposed to SO(2). We conducted a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) analysis based on age-specific and calendar period-specific national mortality rates. We also conducted a Poisson regression analysis to determine the dose-response relations between SO(2) exposure and cancer mortality risks and to explore the effect of potential confounding factors. The SMR analysis showed a moderate deficit of all causes of death [SMR = 0.89; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.87-0.96] among exposed workers. Lung cancer mortality was marginally increased among exposed workers (SMR = 1.08; 95% CI, 0.98-1.18). After adjustment for occupational coexposures, the lung cancer risk was increased compared with unexposed workers (rate ratio = 1.49; 95% CI, 1.14-1.96). There was a suggestion of a positive relationship between weighted cumulative SO(2) exposure and lung cancer mortality (p-value of test for linear trend = 0.009 among all exposed workers; p = 0.3 among workers with high exposure). Neither duration of exposure nor time since first exposure was associated with lung cancer mortality. Mortality from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and from leukemia was increased among workers with high SO(2) exposure; a dose-response relationship with cumulative SO(2) exposure was suggested for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. For the other causes of death, there was no evidence of increased mortality associated with exposure to SO(2). Although residual confounding may have occurred, our results suggest that occupational exposure to SO(2) in the pulp and paper industry may be associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.
Air-contamination; Humans; Cancer; Lung-cancer; Lymphatic-cancer; Mortality-rates; Paper-manufacturing-industry; Sulfur-oxides; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Author Keywords: epidemiology; lung neoplasms; mortality; pulp and paper industry; sulfur dioxide
P. Boffetta, Unit of Environmental Cancer Epidemiology, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 150 cours Albert-Thomas, 69008 Lyon, France
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Journal Article
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Research Tools and Approaches: Cancer Research Methods
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Environmental Health Perspectives
Page last reviewed: September 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division