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Worker Health Study Summaries

Research on long-term exposure

NIOSH Study of Paperboard Packaging


Study Background

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a federal agency that conducts research studies on the health of workers. We were asked to look into whether an unusual number of cases of kidney and bladder cancer had occurred in workers at a plant in Georgia.

The study was done without contacting the individual workers because it is based on records. The study did not involve medical examinations. It included living and deceased workers. The study included 2,050 workers who had worked at the plant between January 1, 1957 and June 30, 1988.

Study Findings

We found three cases of bladder cancer. This was about the number of cases we would expect to find in a group of people this size who are as healthy as the general public. Therefore, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with bladder cancer in these workers at this point.

We found 6 cases of kidney cancer among 2,050 workers. Only one to two cases would normally have been expected in this group of workers. This means the workers were almost four times more likely to get kidney cancer than the general public.

The kidney cancers may, or may not, be related to having worked at the plant. Only those persons who had worked at the plant for more than 15 years were more likely than the average person to develop kidney cancer. The cases were not clearly linked to any particular department of chemical exposure. However, three of the six people who had kidney cancer had worked in the Finishing Department.

What Should You Do

There are no recommended tests for people who may be at risk of kidney cancer but who have no symptoms. The symptoms for kidney cancer include: blood in the urine, pain in the kidney area, or change in urination habits. If these occur, they could be due to any of several other conditions, not just cancer, so you should consult your doctor.

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