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1.  Respiratory symptoms in children at schools near a foundry. 
A survey was carried out in response to complaints of increased respiratory symptoms in children at schools near a foundry in Walsall, West Midlands. Air monitoring around the factory had shown concentrations of formaldehyde most of which were orders of magnitude below the current occupational exposure limit of 2.5 mg/m3, although concentrations up to 0.3 mg/m3 had been recorded over short periods. The study sample comprised children aged 6.8-7.8 years from 39 schools in the borough. Information about respiratory symptoms and potential risk factors for respiratory disease was elicited from parents by a self administered questionnaire. Data were obtained on 1334 children, a response rate of 81.8%. The prevalences of reported wheeze (11.1%), breathlessness (7.7%), and chest discomfort (8.6%) were similar to those in an earlier survey carried out in Southampton by the same method at the same time of year. Cough (prevalence = 18.4%) and chestiness at night (14.6%) were significantly less common than in Southampton. When sex, social class, housing tenure, passive smoking, and parental history of asthma were taken into account, the prevalences of symptoms at schools within one mile of the foundry were generally lower than in other parts of Walsall. These findings give no support to the hypothesis that foundry emissions cause respiratory disease in children, although an adverse effect in a few sensitive children cannot be ruled out.
PMCID: PMC1035429  PMID: 1911400
2.  Mortality and incidence of cancer at four factories making phenoxy herbicides. 
To assess the possible carcinogenicity of phenoxy herbicides and related chlorophenols and dioxins, the International Agency for Research on Cancer is coordinating an international collaborative study of workers exposed to these compounds in their production or use. Four British cohorts of chemical manufacturers which have been recruited to the survey are described. They comprise a total of 2239 men employed during 1963-85. These subjects were traced to 31 December 1987 through the National Health Service Central Register and the National Insurance Index, and their mortality compared with that in the national population. Two deaths were from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma with 0.87 expected. Both deaths occurred more than 10 years after first exposure to phenoxy compounds. One further non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was registered in a living subject with probable exposure to phenoxy compounds. No cases of soft tissue sarcoma or Hodgkin's disease were recorded. A nonsignificant excess of lung cancer (19 deaths observed, 14.2 expected) is probably attributable to chance or a confounding effect of smoking. In one cohort only there was increased mortality from circulatory disease (34 deaths observed, 20.4 expected). A nested case-control study did not point to any occupational cause for this excess, but further evaluation will be needed during continued follow up.
PMCID: PMC1035345  PMID: 2015208
3.  Stomach cancer and work in dusty industries. 
The city of Stoke-on-Trent, whose major industries include coalmining, iron and steel, ceramics, and rubber, has death rates from stomach cancer some 80% above the national average. To explore the hypothesis that work in these dusty industries is responsible for the local excess of stomach cancer, we compared 95 incident cases with 190 age and sex matched community controls. Lifetime occupational histories and premorbid consumption of foods suspected of causing or protecting against stomach cancer were ascertained by a self administered questionnaire, supplemented at interview. Sixty eight cases had at some time held a manual job in one of the four dusty industries (relative risk = 1.4, 95% confidence interval 0.8-2.4). After allowance for diet, rubber manufacture was the industry most strongly associated with stomach cancer (relative risk = 2.5, 95% CI 1.0-6.4). Associations were also found with coal mining and ceramics but these were not statistically significant at a 5% level. The estimated proportion of stomach cancer attributable to the four dusty industries was 23%. It is concluded that the high incidence of stomach cancer in Stoke-on-Trent is unlikely to be explained solely by occupational exposure to dust.
PMCID: PMC1035163  PMID: 2357449
5.  Workers exposed to ethylene oxide: a follow up study. 
A cohort study has been carried out of 2876 men and women with potential exposure to ethylene oxide. Subjects were identified from employment records at four companies that have produced or used ethylene oxide since the 1950s and at eight hospitals which have had ethylene oxide sterilising units since the 1960s. The cohort represents a substantial proportion of the British workforce with a history of occupational exposure to ethylene oxide. Industrial hygiene data were not available before 1977, but since then time weighted average exposures have been less than 5 ppm in almost all jobs and less than 1 ppm in many. Past exposures were probably somewhat higher. In contrast to some previous studies, no clear excess of leukaemia (three deaths observed, 2.09 expected) and no increase in stomach cancer (five deaths observed, 5.95 expected) were found. This discrepancy with earlier reports may be due in part to differences in levels of exposure. Total cancer mortality was similar to that expected from national and local death rates. Some specific cancers showed small excesses but their relevance to ethylene oxide exposure is doubtful. Again, contrary to some earlier reports, no excess of cardiovascular disease was found. This study does not exclude the possibility that ethylene oxide is a human carcinogen but suggests that any risk of cancer from currently permitted occupational exposures is small.
PMCID: PMC1009883  PMID: 2611160
6.  Lung cancer in the meat industry. 
Routine statistics of occupational mortality and incidence of cancer have consistently shown high rates of lung cancer in butchers. Possible explanations include infection by carcinogenic papilloma viruses, exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and nitrites in the preservation of meat, or a confounding effect of tobacco. To explore these possibilities, we have examined the mortality of 1610 men employed at three British companies processing pork, beef, lamb, bacon, and other meat products. The overall death rate was less than in the national population (271 deaths observed, 310 expected) but there was an excess of deaths from cancer (87 observed, 80 expected), and in particular from lung cancer (42 observed, 32 expected). The risk of lung cancer was concentrated in subjects exposed to recently slaughtered meat, especially after an interval of 10 or more years. These findings increase suspicions of a risk of lung cancer in butchers, although further information is needed about smoking habits in the meat industry. If there is a hazard infection by a papilloma virus would seem the most likely cause.
PMCID: PMC1009751  PMID: 2930728
8.  Occupation and five cancers: a case-control study using death certificates. 
A case-control approach has been used to examine mortality from five cancers--oesophagus, pancreas, cutaneous melanoma, kidney, and brain--among young and middle aged men resident in three English counties. The areas studied were chosen because they include major centres of chemical manufacture. By combining data from 20 years it was possible to look at local industries with greater statistical power than is possible using routine national statistics. Each case was matched with up to four controls of similar age who died in the same year from other causes. The occupations and industries recorded on death certificates were coded to standard classifications and risk estimates derived for each job category. Where positive associations were found the records of the cases concerned were examined in greater detail to see whether the risk was limited to specific combinations of occupation and industry. The most interesting findings to emerge were risks of brain cancer associated with the production of meat and fish products (relative risk (RR) = 9.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.6-36.8) and with mineral oil refining (RR = 2.9, CI 1.2-7.0), and a cluster of four deaths from melanoma among refinery workers (RR = 16.0, CI CI 1.8-143.2). A job-exposure matrix was applied to the data but gave no strong indications of further disease associations. Local analyses of occupational mortality such as this can usefully supplement national statistics.
PMCID: PMC1007915  PMID: 3689708
9.  A survey of cancer and occupation in young and middle aged men. II. Non-respiratory cancers. 
In a search for clues to previously unrecognised industrial carcinogens the occupational and smoking histories of young and middle aged men with different types of cancer have been compared. The study population comprised men aged 18-54 and resident in the counties of Cleveland, Humberside, and Cheshire (including the Wirral). Within this population 2942 patients in whom cancers were first diagnosed during the period 1975-80 were identified retrospectively from hospital and cancer registration records. Lifetime occupational and smoking histories were then sought from these subjects (or if they had died by proxy from their next of kin), using a postal questionnaire. The overall response rate was 52.1%. Analysis of limited occupational data obtained from the hospital notes of 89% of the patients suggests that no serious bias arose from the incomplete response to the questionnaire. The present paper describes the findings for non-respiratory cancers. Some tumours did not occur with sufficient frequency to warrant formal statistical analysis. Nevertheless, examination of the histories of patients with these cancers showed several interesting occupational clusters. In particular, five out of 29 patients with acute myeloid leukaemia had worked in electrical trades. The more common cancers were studied by statistical techniques. A large number of possible occupational associations were examined, and some will probably have achieved conventional levels of statistical significance by chance. The results should therefore be interpreted with caution, taking into account evidence from other studies and the biological plausibility of suggested hazards. Among the more interesting findings were an excess of bladder cancer in lorry drivers (RR=1.6, CI 1.0-2.4) and in men employed in the manufacture of vegetable and animal oils and fats (RR = 4.8, CI 1.8-12.9).
PMCID: PMC1007667  PMID: 3718882
10.  A survey of cancer and occupation in young and middle aged men. I. Cancers of the respiratory tract. 
In a search for clues to previously industrial carcinogens the occupational and smoking histories of young and middle aged men with different types of cancer were compared. The study population comprised men aged 18-54 and resident in the counties of Cleveland, Humberside, and Cheshire (including the Wirral). From hospital and cancer registration records 2942 members of the study population in whom cancers were diagnosed during the period 1975-80 were identified retrospectively. The occupational and smoking histories of these patients were sought by a postal questionnaire addressed either to the patients themselves or, if they had died, to their next of kin. The overall response rate to the questionnaire was 52.1%. Additionally, limited occupational information was obtained for 89% of cases from their hospital notes. Analysis of these data suggests that no serious bias arose as a consequence of the incomplete response to the questionnaire. This paper concentrates on the results for cancers of the respiratory tract and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma was found to cluster in laggers, electricians, and shipyard workers, and nasal carcinoma in woodworkers. Carcinomas of the larynx and of the bronchus were examined by formal statistical techniques, each being compared with a control group made up of all other cancers combined. Several interesting occupational and industrial associations were shown, in particular, an excess of bronchial carcinoma in the leather industry (RR = 2.6, CI 1.2-6.0), in building labourers (RR = 1.7, CI 1.0-2.9) and other construction workers (RR = 1.8, CI 1.0-3.0), in bakers and pastry cooks (RR = 3.6, CI 1.3-10.4). and in cooks (RR = 2.5, CI 1.2-5.1). In addition, a small cluster of lung tumours was observed in men who had worked as dental mechanics.
PMCID: PMC1007657  PMID: 3707871
11.  A job-exposure matrix for use in population based studies in England and Wales. 
The job-exposure matrix described has been developed for use in population based studies of occupational morbidity and mortality in England and Wales. The job axis of the matrix is based on the Registrar General's 1966 classification of occupations and 1968 classification of industries, and comprises 669 job categories. The exposure axis is made up of 49 chemical, physical, and biological agents, most of which are known or suspected causes of occupational disease. In the body of the matrix associations between jobs and exposures are graded to four levels. The matrix has been applied to data from a case-control study of lung cancer in which occupational histories were elicited by means of a postal questionnaire. Estimates of exposure to five known or suspected carcinogens (asbestos, chromates, cutting oils, formaldehyde, and inhaled polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were compared with those obtained by detailed review of individual occupational histories. When the matrix was used exposures were attributed to jobs more frequently than on the basis of individual histories. Lung cancer was significantly more common among subjects classed by the matrix as having potential exposure to chromates, but neither method of assigning exposures produced statistically significant associations with asbestos or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Possible explanations for the failure to show a clear effect of these known carcinogens are discussed. The greater accuracy of exposures inferred directly from individual histories was reflected in steeper dose response curves for asbestos, chromates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The improvement over results obtained with the matrix, however, was not great. For occupational data of the type examined in this study, direct exposure estimates offer little advantage over those provided at lower cost by a matrix.
PMCID: PMC1007577  PMID: 4063222

Results 1-12 (12)