Historical reconstruction of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposures for workers in a capacitor manufacturing plant.
Hopf NB; Ruder AM; Waters MA
Environ Sci Pollut Res 2014 May; 21(10):6419-6433
We developed a semiquantitative job exposure matrix (JEM) for workers exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at a capacitor manufacturing plant from 1946 to 1977. In a recently updated mortality study, mortality of prostate and stomach cancer increased with increasing levels of cumulative exposure estimated with this JEM (trend p values=0.003 and 0.04, respectively). Capacitor manufacturing began with winding bales of foil and paper film, which were placed in a metal capacitor box (preassembly), and placed in a vacuum chamber for floodfilling (impregnation) with dielectric fluid (PCBs). Capacitors dripping with PCB residues were then transported to sealing stations where ports were soldered shut before degreasing, leak testing, and painting. Using a systematic approach, all 509 unique jobs identified in the work histories were rated by predetermined process- and plant-specific exposure determinants; then categorized based on the jobs' similarities (combination of exposure determinants) into 35 job exposure categories. The job exposure categories were ranked followed by a qualitative PCB exposure rating (baseline, low, medium, and high) for inhalation and dermal intensity. Category differences in other chemical exposures (solvents, etc.) prevented further combining of categories. The mean of all available PCB concentrations (1975 and 1977) for jobs within each intensity rating was regarded as a representative value for that intensity level. Inhalation (in microgram per cubic milligram) and dermal (unitless) exposures were regarded as equally important. Intensity was frequency adjusted for jobs with continuous or intermittent PCB exposures. Era-modifying factors were applied to the earlier time periods (1946-1974) because exposures were considered to have been greater than in later eras (1975-1977). Such interpolations, extrapolations, and modifying factors may introduce non-differential misclassification; however, we do believe our rigorous method minimized misclassification, as shown by the significant exposure- response trends in the epidemiologic analysis.
Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Workers; Polychlorinated-biphenyls; Cancer; Carcinogens; Chemical-properties;
Author Keywords: Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB); Job exposure matrix (JEM)
Nancy B. Hopf, Institute for Work and Health (IST), Route de la Corniche 2, 1066, Epalinges-Lausanne, Switzerland
Environmental Science and Pollution Research