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Mortality patterns among workers in a US pharmaceutical production plant.

Abstract

Subjects were 1999 workers with some full-time employment during the period between 1970 and 1996. We identified deaths through the year 2000 and reconstructed exposures to nine chemical agents with available exposure measurements. Data analyses included standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and time trends in local cancer mortality rates.

With the possible exceptions of LHTC, in particular NHL, and RSC, this study provided no evidence of elevated total or cause-specific cohort mortality risks. It does not appear that plant factors played a role in the 1980 to 1990 increases in local county cancer mortality rates.

To examine mortality among workers in a pharmaceutical production plant and to address community concerns about 1980 to 1990 increases in local county cancer mortality rates.

We observed deficits in deaths from all causes combined, all cancers combined, and most cause of death categories examined. Male workers with potential plant exposure had excesses in deaths from all lymphatic-hematopoietic tissue cancers (LHTC), in particular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), and respiratory system cancers (RSC) that were larger among long-term workers, but the pattern of findings suggested the excesses were probably not related to occupational factors at the plant. The increase in local county cancer mortality rates was simply the upward cycle of a periodic trend that peaked in 1990 and returned to 1980 levels in 2000.

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