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Aims: To determine cause specific mortality in a cohort of 2266 chemical workers exposed to benzene in various manufacturing processes after 1935.
Methods: The cohort has accumulated over 80 000 person-years of observation; about 70% of the workers were followed for more than 30 years since first exposure.
Results: Mortality from non-malignant diseases of the blood was increased (SMR 2.17, 95% CI 0.87 to 4.48), and correlated with duration of benzene exposure, although risk had decreased from the previous investigation of this cohort. The risk for leukaemia was slightly above background (SMR 1.14, obs 12, 95% CI 0.59 to 1.99) but has also decreased since the earlier study of this cohort. SMRs for acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia (ANLL), chronic lymphatic leukaemia, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were 1.11, 0.42, and 1.06 respectively. There was evidence of a weak trend of increasing SMRs for leukaemia and possibly ANLL with increasing low-level cumulative exposure but not with other measures.
Conclusion: Leukaemia and ANLL results were consistent with the mildly increased risk estimates from lower exposure subgroups of the Pliofilm cohort.