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Risk of lung cancer associated with quantitative beryllium exposure metrics within an occupational cohort.
Schubauer-Berigan MK; Deddens JA; Couch JR; Petersen MR
Occup Environ Med 2011 May; 68(5):354-360
Objectives: Beryllium has been identified as a human carcinogen on the basis of animal and epidemiological studies. The authors recently reported updated associations between lung cancer and beryllium exposure in a large, pooled occupational cohort. The authors conducted the present study to evaluate the shape of exposure-response associations between different exposure metrics and lung cancer in this cohort, considering potential confounders (race, plant, professional and short-term work status, and exposure to other lung carcinogens). Methods: The authors conducted Cox proportional hazards regression analyses of lung cancer risk with cumulative, mean and maximum 'daily weighted average' (DWA) exposure among 5436 workers, using age-based risk sets. Different exposure-response curves were fitted to the exposure metrics, including categorical, power, restricted cubic spline and piecewise log-linear fits. Results: The authors found significant positive associations between lung cancer and mean (p<0.0001) and maximum (p<0.0001) exposure, adjusting for age, birth cohort and plant, and for cumulative (p=0.0017) beryllium exposure, adjusting for these factors plus short-term work status and exposure to asbestos. The best-fitting models were generally categorical or piecewise log-linear, with the steepest increase in lung cancer risk between 0 and 10 µg/m3 for both mean and maximum DWA exposure and between 0 and 200 µg/m3-days for cumulative DWA exposure. The estimated mean DWA beryllium exposure associated with 10(-3) excess lifetime risk based on the piecewise log-linear model is 0.033 µg/m3. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that lung cancer risk is elevated at levels near the current US Occupational Safety and Health Administration beryllium exposure limit of 2.0 µg/m3 DWA for workers.
Beryllium-compounds; Carcinogens; Lung-cancer; Cancer; Cancer-rates; Epidemiology; Dose-response; Mathematical-models; Risk-analysis; Statistical-analysis; Exposure-limits; Permissible-limits; Lifespan
Dr. Mary K. Schubauer-Berigan, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies, MS-R15, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA
Issue of Publication
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Page last reviewed: October 16, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division