To assess mortality in Vermont granite workers and examine relationships between silica exposure and mortality from lung cancer, kidney cancer, non-malignant kidney disease, silicosis and other non-malignant respiratory disease.
Workers employed between 1947 and 1998 were identified. Exposures were estimated using a job–exposure matrix. Mortality was assessed through 2004 and standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were computed. Associations between mortality and exposure to silica were assessed by nested case–control analyses using conditional logistic regression.
7052 workers had sufficient data for statistical analysis. SMRs were significantly elevated for lung cancer (SMR 1.37, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.52), silicosis (SMR 59.13, 95% CI 44.55 to 76.97), tuberculosis (SMR 21.74, 95% CI 18.37 to 25.56) and other non-malignant respiratory disease (SMR 1.74, 95% CI 1.50 to 2.02) but not for kidney cancer or non-malignant kidney disease. In nested case–control analyses, significant associations with cumulative exposure to respirable free silica were observed for silicosis (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.21 for each 1 mg/m3-year increase in cumulative exposure) and other non-malignant respiratory disease (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.16) but not for lung cancer (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.03), kidney cancer (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.09) or non-malignant kidney disease (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.08).
Exposure to crystalline silica in Vermont granite workers was associated with increased mortality from silicosis and other non-malignant respiratory disease, but there was no evidence that increased lung cancer mortality in the cohort was due to exposure. Mortality from malignant and non-malignant kidney disease was not significantly increased or associated with exposure.