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OBJECTIVES—To update mortality for 34 560 employees from diverse operating segments of a Canadian petroleum company; and to investigate potential relations with occupational factors.
METHODS—Employees from 1964-83 were linked to the Canadian mortality data base to provide 11 years additional follow up. There were 6760 deaths and 750 683 person-years of follow up compared with 3909 and 428 190, respectively, in the earlier study. Analyses used standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) to compare worker cause specific mortality with the Canadian general population. Duration of employment and latency analyses were performed for causes previously found to be increased in this and other petroleum cohorts, as well as any findings of interest.
RESULTS—For the period 1964-94, employees experienced significantly low overall mortality (SMR=0.86 men, SMR=0.80 women). Kidney cancer, which has been increased in some studies of petroleum workers, was not increased. Acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia in exposed operating segments was consistent with the expected or only slightly, non-significantly increased. The most notable finding was increased deaths from mesothelioma among refinery and petrochemical workers (SMR 8.68; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 5.51 to 13.03), most of whom were long term employees in jobs with presumed exposure to asbestos (mechanical and pipefitters). Deaths from multiple myeloma among marketing and distribution workers, which were previously increased, remained increased (SMR 2.08; 95% CI 0.95 to 3.95) in the update period 1984-94; however, there was no clear pattern by duration of employment or latency. Aortic aneurysms, which also were previously significantly increased among marketing and distribution workers approached the expected in the update period (SMR 1.18; 95% CI 0.65-1.98). Analyses by duration of employment showed suggestive trends for aortic aneurysms, but earlier studies of this cohort have not found a relation between aortic aneurysms and exposure to hydrocarbons.
CONCLUSION—The additional 2851 deaths and 322 493 person-years of follow up strengthened the assessment of mortality patterns relative to occupational factors. With the exception of mesothelioma, no clear work related increases in disease were identified.
Keywords: epidemiology; occupational exposures; petroleum