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1.  Methods and feasibility of collecting occupational data for a large population-based cohort study in the United States: the reasons for geographic and racial differences in stroke study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:142.
Background
Coronary heart disease and stroke are major contributors to preventable mortality. Evidence links work conditions to these diseases; however, occupational data are perceived to be difficult to collect for large population-based cohorts. We report methodological details and the feasibility of conducting an occupational ancillary study for a large U.S. prospective cohort being followed longitudinally for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Methods
Current and historical occupational information were collected from active participants of the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study. A survey was designed to gather quality occupational data among this national cohort of black and white men and women aged 45 years and older (enrolled 2003–2007). Trained staff conducted Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). After a brief pilot period, interviewers received additional training in the collection of narrative industry and occupation data before administering the survey to remaining cohort members. Trained coders used a computer-assisted coding system to assign U.S. Census codes for industry and occupation. All data were double coded; discrepant codes were independently resolved.
Results
Over a 2-year period, 17,648 participants provided consent and completed the occupational survey (87% response rate). A total of 20,427 jobs were assigned Census codes. Inter-rater reliability was 80% for industry and 74% for occupation. Less than 0.5% of the industry and occupation data were uncodable, compared with 12% during the pilot period. Concordance between the current and longest-held jobs was moderately high. The median time to collect employment status plus narrative and descriptive job information by CATI was 1.6 to 2.3 minutes per job. Median time to assign Census codes was 1.3 minutes per rater.
Conclusions
The feasibility of conducting high-quality occupational data collection and coding for a large heterogeneous population-based sample was demonstrated. We found that training for interview staff was important in ensuring that narrative responses for industry and occupation were adequately specified for coding. Estimates of survey administration time and coding from digital records provide an objective basis for planning future studies. The social and environmental conditions of work are important understudied risk factors that can be feasibly integrated into large population-based health studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-142
PMCID: PMC3933294  PMID: 24512119
Occupations; Occupational exposure; Stressful events; Social class; Cohort studies; Epidemiologic methods; Data collection; Stroke; Cardiovascular disease
2.  Occupational exposure to chlorinated solvents and risks of glioma and meningioma in adults 
Occupational and environmental medicine  2012;69(11):10.1136/oemed-2012-100742.
Objectives
Chlorinated solvents are classified as probable or possible carcinogens. It is unknown whether exposure to these agents increases the risk of malignant or benign brain tumors. Our objective was to evaluate associations of brain tumor risk with occupational exposure to six chlorinated solvents [i.e., dichloromethane, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and perchloroethylene].
Methods
489 glioma cases, 197 meningioma cases, and 799 controls were enrolled in a hospital-based case-control study conducted at three U.S. hospitals in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Information about occupational history was obtained through a detailed in-person interview that included job-specific modules of questions such that the interview was tailored to each individual’s particular work history. An industrial hygienist assessed potential solvent exposure based on this information and an exhaustive review of the relevant industrial hygiene literature. Unconditional logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each solvent for ever/never, duration, cumulative, average weekly, and highest exposure.
Results
Overall, we found no consistent evidence of an increased risk of glioma or meningioma related to occupational exposure to the six chlorinated solvents evaluated. There was some suggestion of an association between carbon tetrachloride and glioma in analyses restricted to exposed subjects, with average weekly exposure above the median associated with increased risk compared to below-median exposure (OR=7.1, 95%CI: 1.1, 45.2).
Conclusions
We found no consistent evidence for increased brain tumor risk related to chlorinated solvents.
doi:10.1136/oemed-2012-100742
PMCID: PMC3850418  PMID: 22864249
epidemiology; cancer; solvents
3.  Assessment of ALS Mortality in a Cohort of Formaldehyde-exposed Garment Workers 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis & frontotemporal degeneration  2013;14(0):10.3109/21678421.2013.778284.
doi:10.3109/21678421.2013.778284
PMCID: PMC3837684  PMID: 23570513
formaldehyde; cohort studies; occupational exposure; retrospective studies; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
4.  Statistical modeling of occupational chlorinated solvent exposures for case–control studies using a literature-based database 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2010;54(4):459-472.
Objectives: Occupational exposure assessment for population-based case–control studies is challenging due to the wide variety of industries and occupations encountered by study participants. We developed and evaluated statistical models to estimate the intensity of exposure to three chlorinated solvents—methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and trichloroethylene—using a database of air measurement data and associated exposure determinants.
Methods: A measurement database was developed after an extensive review of the published industrial hygiene literature. The database of nearly 3000 measurements or summary measurements included sample size, measurement characteristics (year, duration, and type), and several potential exposure determinants associated with the measurements: mechanism of release (e.g. evaporation), process condition, temperature, usage rate, type of ventilation, location, presence of a confined space, and proximity to the source. The natural log-transformed measurement levels in the exposure database were modeled as a function of the measurement characteristics and exposure determinants using maximum likelihood methods. Assuming a single lognormal distribution of the measurements, an arithmetic mean exposure intensity level was estimated for each unique combination of exposure determinants and decade.
Results: The proportions of variability in the measurement data explained by the modeled measurement characteristics and exposure determinants were 36, 38, and 54% for methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and trichloroethylene, respectively. Model parameter estimates for the exposure determinants were in the anticipated direction. Exposure intensity estimates were plausible and exhibited internal consistency, but the ability to evaluate validity was limited.
Conclusions: These prediction models can be used to estimate chlorinated solvent exposure intensity for jobs reported by population-based case–control study participants that have sufficiently detailed information regarding the exposure determinants.
doi:10.1093/annhyg/meq027
PMCID: PMC2913720  PMID: 20418277
case–control study; exposure assessment; exposure determinants; occupational exposure
5.  Follow‐up study of chrysotile textile workers: cohort mortality and exposure‐response 
Objectives
This report provides an update of the mortality experience of a cohort of South Carolina asbestos textile workers.
Methods
A cohort of 3072 workers exposed to chrysotile in a South Carolina asbestos textile plant (1916–77) was followed up for mortality through 2001. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were computed using US and South Carolina mortality rates. A job exposure matrix provided calendar time dependent estimates of chrysotile exposure concentrations. Poisson regression models were fitted for lung cancer and asbestosis. Covariates considered included sex, race, age, calendar time, birth cohort and time since first exposure. Cumulative exposure lags of 5 and 10 years were considered by disregarding exposure in the most recent 5 and 10 years, respectively.
Results
A majority of the cohort was deceased (64%) and 702 of the 1961 deaths occurred since the previous update. Mortality was elevated based on US referent rates for a priori causes of interest including all causes combined (SMR 1.33, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.39); all cancers (SMR 1.27, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.39); oesophageal cancer (SMR 1.87, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.99); lung cancer (SMR 1.95, 95% CI 1.68 to 2.24); ischaemic heart disease (SMR 1.20, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.32); and pneumoconiosis and other respiratory diseases (SMR 4.81, 95% CI 3.84 to 5.94). Mortality remained elevated for these causes when South Carolina referent rates were used. Three cases of mesothelioma were observed among cohort members. Exposure‐response modelling for lung cancer, using a linear relative risk model, produced a slope coefficient of 0.0198 (fibre‐years/ml) (standard error 0.00496), when cumulative exposure was lagged 10 years. Poisson regression modelling confirmed significant positive relations between estimated chrysotile exposure and lung cancer and asbestosis mortality observed in previous updates of this cohort.
Conclusions
This study confirms the findings from previous investigations of excess mortality from lung cancer and asbestosis and a strong exposure‐response relation between estimated exposure to chrysotile and mortality from lung cancer and asbestosis.
doi:10.1136/oem.2006.031005
PMCID: PMC2092560  PMID: 17449563
6.  Recovery Efficiency and Limit of Detection of Aerosolized Bacillus anthracis Sterne from Environmental Surface Samples ▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(13):4297-4306.
After the 2001 anthrax incidents, surface sampling techniques for biological agents were found to be inadequately validated, especially at low surface loadings. We aerosolized Bacillus anthracis Sterne spores within a chamber to achieve very low surface loading (ca. 3, 30, and 200 CFU per 100 cm2). Steel and carpet coupons seeded in the chamber were sampled with swab (103 cm2) or wipe or vacuum (929 cm2) surface sampling methods and analyzed at three laboratories. Agar settle plates (60 cm2) were the reference for determining recovery efficiency (RE). The minimum estimated surface concentrations to achieve a 95% response rate based on probit regression were 190, 15, and 44 CFU/100 cm2 for sampling steel surfaces and 40, 9.2, and 28 CFU/100 cm2 for sampling carpet surfaces with swab, wipe, and vacuum methods, respectively; however, these results should be cautiously interpreted because of high observed variability. Mean REs at the highest surface loading were 5.0%, 18%, and 3.7% on steel and 12%, 23%, and 4.7% on carpet for the swab, wipe, and vacuum methods, respectively. Precision (coefficient of variation) was poor at the lower surface concentrations but improved with increasing surface concentration. The best precision was obtained with wipe samples on carpet, achieving 38% at the highest surface concentration. The wipe sampling method detected B. anthracis at lower estimated surface concentrations and had higher RE and better precision than the other methods. These results may guide investigators to more meaningfully conduct environmental sampling, quantify contamination levels, and conduct risk assessment for humans.
doi:10.1128/AEM.02549-08
PMCID: PMC2704799  PMID: 19429546
7.  Occupational Exposure to Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Risk of Breast Cancer 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2008;117(2):276-282.
Background
Despite the endocrine system activity exhibited by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), recent studies have shown little association between PCB exposure and breast cancer mortality.
Objectives
To further evaluate the relation between PCB exposure and breast cancer risk, we studied incidence, a more sensitive end point than mortality, in an occupational cohort.
Methods
We followed 5,752 women employed for at least 1 year in one of three capacitor manufacturing facilities, identifying cases from questionnaires, cancer registries, and death certificates through 1998. We collected lifestyle and reproductive information via questionnaire from participants or next of kin and used semiquantitative job-exposure matrices for inhalation and dermal exposures combined. We generated standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and standardized rate ratios and used Cox proportional hazards regression models to evaluate potential confounders and effect modifiers.
Results
Overall, the breast cancer SIR was 0.81 (95% confidence interval, 0.72–0.92; n = 257), and regression modeling showed little effect of employment duration or cumulative exposure. However, for the 362 women of questionnaire-identified races other than white, we observed positive, statistically significant associations with employment duration and cumulative exposure; only smoking, birth cohort, and self- or proxy questionnaire completion had statistically significant explanatory power when added to models with exposure metrics.
Conclusions
We found no overall elevation in breast cancer risk after occupational exposure to PCBs. However, the exposure-related risk elevations seen among nonwhite workers, although of limited interpretability given the small number of cases, warrant further investigation, because the usual reproductive risk factors accounted for little of the increased risk.
doi:10.1289/ehp.11774
PMCID: PMC2649231  PMID: 19270799
breast cancer; incidence; occupational epidemiology; polychlorinated biphenyls
8.  Biological exposure assessment to tetrachloroethylene for workers in the dry cleaning industry 
Environmental Health  2008;7:12.
Background
The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of conducting biological tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene, PCE) exposure assessments of dry cleaning employees in conjunction with evaluation of possible PCE health effects.
Methods
Eighteen women from four dry cleaning facilities in southwestern Ohio were monitored in a pilot study of workers with PCE exposure. Personal breathing zone samples were collected from each employee on two consecutive work days. Biological monitoring included a single measurement of PCE in blood and multiple measurements of pre- and post-shift PCE in exhaled breath and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) in urine.
Results
Post-shift PCE in exhaled breath gradually increased throughout the work week. Statistically significant correlations were observed among the exposure indices. Decreases in PCE in exhaled breath and TCA in urine were observed after two days without exposure to PCE. A mixed-effects model identified statistically significant associations between PCE in exhaled breath and airborne PCE time weighted average (TWA) after adjusting for a random participant effect and fixed effects of time and body mass index.
Conclusion
Although comprehensive, our sampling strategy was challenging to implement due to fluctuating work schedules and the number (pre- and post-shift on three consecutive days) and multiplicity (air, blood, exhaled breath, and urine) of samples collected. PCE in blood is the preferred biological index to monitor exposures, but may make recruitment difficult. PCE TWA sampling is an appropriate surrogate, although more field intensive. Repeated measures of exposure and mixed-effects modeling may be required for future studies due to high within-subject variability. Workers should be monitored over a long enough period of time to allow the use of a lag term.
doi:10.1186/1476-069X-7-12
PMCID: PMC2374777  PMID: 18412959
9.  Mortality and Exposure Response among 14,458 Electrical Capacitor Manufacturing Workers Exposed to Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2006;114(10):1508-1514.
Background
We expanded an existing cohort of workers (n = 2,588) considered highly exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at two capacitor manufacturing plants to include all workers with at least 90 days of potential PCB exposure during 1939–1977 (n = 14,458). Causes of death of a priori interest included liver and rectal cancers, previously reported for the original cohort, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), melanoma, and breast, brain, intestine, stomach, and prostate cancers, based on other studies.
Methods
We ascertained vital status of the workers through 1998, and cumulative PCB exposure was estimated using a new job exposure matrix. Analyses employed standardized mortality ratios (SMRs; U.S., state, and county referents) and Poisson regression modeling.
Results
Mortality from NHL, melanoma, and rectal, breast, and brain cancers were neither in excess nor associated with cumulative exposure. Mortality was not elevated for liver cancer [21 deaths; SMR 0.89; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.55–1.36], but increased with cumulative exposure (trend p-value = 0.071). Among men, stomach cancer mortality was elevated (24 deaths; SMR 1.53; 95% CI, 0.98–2.28) and increased with cumulative exposure (trend p-value = 0.039). Among women, intestinal cancer mortality was elevated (67 deaths; SMR 1.31; 95% CI, 1.02–1.66), especially in higher cumulative exposure categories, but without a clear trend. Prostate cancer mortality, which was not elevated (34 deaths; SMR 1.04; 95% CI, 0.72–1.45), increased with cumulative exposure (trend p-value = 0.0001).
Conclusions
This study corroborates previous studies showing increased liver cancer mortality, but we cannot clearly associate rectal, stomach, and intestinal cancers with PCB exposure. This is the first PCB cohort showing a strong exposure–response relationship for prostate cancer mortality.
doi:10.1289/ehp.9175
PMCID: PMC1626402  PMID: 17035134
cancer; electrical capacitor manufacturing; liver cancer; mortality; occupational exposure; PCBs; polychlorinated biphenyls; prostate cancer
10.  Update: cohort mortality study of workers highly exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) during the manufacture of electrical capacitors, 1940-1998 
Environmental Health  2006;5:13.
Background
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health previously reported mortality for a cohort of workers considered highly exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) between 1939 and 1977 at two electrical capacitor manufacturing plants. The current study updated vital status, examined liver and rectal cancer mortality previously reported in excess in this cohort and evaluated mortality from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and cancers of the stomach, intestine, breast, prostate, skin (melanoma) and brain reported to be in excess in other cohort and case-control studies of PCB-exposed persons.
Methods
Mortality was updated through 1998 for 2572 workers. Age-, gender-, race- and calendar year-adjusted standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using U.S., state and county referent rates. SMRs using U.S. referent rates are reported. Duration of employment was used as a surrogate for exposure.
Results
Consistent with the previous follow-up, mortality from biliary passage, liver and gall bladder cancer was significantly elevated (11 deaths, SMR 2.11, CI 1.05 – 3.77), but mortality from rectal cancer was not (6 deaths, SMR 1.47, CI 0.54 – 3.21). Among women, mortality from intestinal cancer (24 deaths, SMR 1.89, CI 1.21 – 2.82) and from "other diseases of the nervous system and sense organs", which include Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (15 deaths, SMR 2.07, CI 1.16 – 3.42) were elevated. There were four ALS deaths, all women (SMR 4.35, CI 1.19–11.14). Mortality was elevated for myeloma (7 deaths, SMR 2.11, CI 0.84 – 4.34), particularly among workers employed 10 years or more (5 deaths, SMR 2.80, CI 0.91 – 6.54). No linear associations between mortality and duration of employment were observed for the cancers of interest.
Conclusion
This update found that the earlier reported excess in this cohort for biliary, liver and gall bladder cancer persisted with longer follow-up. Excess mortality for intestinal cancer among women was elevated across categories of duration of employment; myeloma mortality was highest among those working 10 years or more. The small numbers of deaths from liver and intestinal cancers, myeloma and nervous system diseases coupled with the lack of an exposure-response relationship with duration of employment preclude drawing definitive conclusions regarding PCB exposure and these causes of death.
doi:10.1186/1476-069X-5-13
PMCID: PMC1524943  PMID: 16716225
11.  Mortality among Workers Exposed to Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in an Electrical Capacitor Manufacturing Plant in Indiana: An Update 
An Indiana capacitor-manufacturing cohort (n = 3,569) was exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from 1957 to 1977. The original study of mortality through 1984 found excess melanoma and brain cancer; other studies of PCB-exposed individuals have found excess non-Hodgkin lymphoma and rectal, liver, biliary tract, and gallbladder cancer. Mortality was updated through 1998. Analyses have included standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using rates for Indiana and the United States, standardized rate ratios (SRRs), and Poisson regression rate ratios (RRs). Estimated cumulative exposure calculations used a new job–exposure matrix. Mortality overall was reduced (547 deaths; SMR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.7–0.9). Non-Hodgkin lymphoma mortality was elevated (9 deaths; SMR, 1.23; 95% CI, 0.6–2.3). Melanoma remained in excess (9 deaths; SMR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.1–4.6), especially in the lowest tertile of estimated cumulative exposure (5 deaths; SMR, 3.72; 95% CI, 1.2–8.7). Seven of the 12 brain cancer deaths (SMR, 1.91; 95% CI, 1.0–3.3) occurred after the original study. Brain cancer mortality increased with exposure (in the highest tertile, 5 deaths; SMR, 2.71; 95% CI, 0.9–6.3); the SRR dose–response trend was significant (p = 0.016). Among those working ≥90 days, both melanoma (8 deaths; SMR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.1–5.2) and brain cancer (11 deaths; SMR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.1–3.8) were elevated, especially for women: melanoma, 3 deaths (SMR, 5.99; 95% CI, 1.2–17.5); brain cancer, 3 deaths (SMR, 2.87; 95% CI, 0.6–8.4). These findings of excess melanoma and brain cancer mortality confirm results of the original study. Melanoma mortality was not associated with estimated cumulative exposure. Brain cancer mortality did not demonstrate a clear dose–response relationship with estimated cumulative exposure.
doi:10.1289/ehp.8253
PMCID: PMC1332650  PMID: 16393652
cancer; cohort study; exposure assessment; occupational exposure; polychlorinated biphenyls
12.  Surface Sampling Methods for Bacillus anthracis Spore Contamination 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2002;8(10):1145-1151.
During an investigation conducted December 17–20, 2001, we collected environmental samples from a U.S. postal facility in Washington, D.C., known to be extensively contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores. Because methods for collecting and analyzing B. anthracis spores have not yet been validated, our objective was to compare the relative effectiveness of sampling methods used for collecting spores from contaminated surfaces. Comparison of wipe, wet and dry swab, and HEPA vacuum sock samples on nonporous surfaces indicated good agreement between results with HEPA vacuum and wipe samples. However, results from HEPA vacuum sock and wipe samples agreed poorly with the swab samples. Dry swabs failed to detect spores >75% of the time they were detected by wipe and HEPA vacuum samples. Wipe samples collected after HEPA vacuum samples and HEPA vacuum samples after wipe samples indicated that neither method completely removed spores from the sampled surfaces.
doi:10.3201/eid0810.020382
PMCID: PMC2730285  PMID: 12396930
Bacillus anthracis; anthrax; bacterial spores; surface sampling; HEPA vacuum sock; swabs; wipes; postal facility; bioterrorism

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