Worker Health Study Summaries – Carbon disulfide Exposure

Research on long-term exposure

Tire and Rubber Company (1) (Carbon disulfide Exposure)


Study Background

NIOSH conducted a study of workers at a tire and rubber manufacturing plant to evaluate whether workers at the plant had an excess risk of heart disease. The exposure under study was carbon disulfide, a chemical used in rubber chemicals department.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research on the health of workers. NIOSH studied workers at a tire and rubber manufacturing plant. NIOSH received employment records from the plant to help us study the workers.

In 1988, the Oil, Chemical and Atomic (OCAW) International Union asked NIOSH to look into a possible excess of bladder cancer and heart disease among members in the rubber chemicals department of a tire and rubber manufacturing plant.

It is important to note that the increased risk of heart disease discussed in the NIOSH brochure refers to workers as a group. We cannot predict the future health of any individual worker.

We hope this information is helpful to you. If you or your doctor or members of your family have any questions, please call the toll-free at 800-356-4674.

worker in a tire factory

Why the study was done

The OCAW asked for an investigation into possible excess risk of heart disease among workers in a tire and rubber company.

Some studies suggest that carbon disulfide, a chemical used in making rubber chemicals, may increase the risk of heart disease. Carbon disulfide exposures at the plant were not found at levels associated with heart disease and the chemical was removed from the plant in 1994.

Who was included?

  • 1,749 workers from a tire and rubber company who worked at the plant sometime between 1946-1988.
  • 708 workers were definitely exposed to rubber chemicals because they worked in the chemicals department.
  • 291 workers were possibly exposed and worked in the maintenance, janitorial, or shipping department.
  • 750 workers were probably not exposed.

How the study was done

We obtained death certificates of workers who had died between 1946-1994.

We compared the number of deaths from heart disease in workers to the number of deaths which would be expected in a similar population of the United States and New York City (NYC).

Study Results

Among workers in the chemicals department, we expected between 14 and 15 deaths from heart disease, but found 22. This was 1½ times more deaths than expected when compared to U. S. death rates and 20% more deaths than expected when compared to NYC death rates.

For workers in the chemicals department less than 50 years old, we expected between 3 and 4 deaths, but found 9. This was 2½ times more deaths than expected using U.S. death rates and 2 times more deaths than expected using NYC death rates.

For workers at the plant who were “possibly exposed” or “probably not exposed” to rubber chemicals, there was no increased risk of heart disease.


Workers definitely exposed in the chemicals department had a greater risk of heart disease than expected, especially those workers under 50 years of age.

Factors that may be involved in the increase in heart disease include chemical exposures, other factors at work (such as rotating shifts), or factors outside of work.

Based on the results of this study, the observed increase in heart disease can not be attributed to any specific factors, either inside or outside the tire and rubber plant.

We recommend that all possible exposures that may increase the risk of heart disease be monitored and evaluated, and be reduced or eliminated, if possible.

For more information about the study, please contact

At NIOSH: 800-356-4674, toll free
Robert A. Taft Laboratories
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, Ohio 45226

To receive a copy of the study report or other information about occupational safety and health topics, contact NIOSH at

NIOSH Publications
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati, OH
Telephone: 800-356-4674
Web site:

Take Steps Now To Protect Yourself From Heart Disease!

If You Smoke, Stop!

Smoking causes many illnesses, especially heart disease. Even if you have smoked for a long time, stopping now will improve your health.

You should see your doctor for regular check-ups:

  • Blood Pressure:
    Normal blood pressure is less than 140/90.
  • Total Cholesterol:
    The desirable level is less than 200.
  • Triglycerides:
    The desirable level is less than 200.
    • HDL: This is “good cholesterol”. The higher the level, the better. The desirable level is 35 or higher.
    • LDL: This is “bad cholesterol”. The lower the level, the better. The desirable level is less than 130.
Get regular exercise!

You should maintain a body weight best for your height and build. Your doctor can recommend the proper weight range for you.

Eat right!

You should eat a healthy diet, low in fats. You should also eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

Would You Like More Information?
Call NIOSH toll-free

For more information about heart disease, call the American Heart Association:

800-AHA-USA1 (800-242-8721)

Additional Resources

Prince M, Ward E, Ruder A, Salvan A, Roberts D (2000). Mortality Among Rubber Chemical Manufacturing Workers”. Am J Ind Med 38:1-9. (Study Report)

Oliver LC, Weber RP (1984): Chest pain in rubber chemical workers exposed to carbon disulphide and methaemoglobin formers. Br J Indust Med 41:296-304.

American Heart Association. Controlling Your Risk Factors. #50-1400 10-99 99 07 28 E.

Page last reviewed: April 8, 2020