Short communication

Scand J Work Environ Health 1996;22(3):223-226    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.135

Exposure to styrene and mortality from nonmalignant diseases of the genitourinary system

by Welp E, Partanen T, Kogevinas M, Andersen A, Bellander T, Biocca M, Coggon D, Fontana V, Kolstad H, Lundberg I, Lynge E, Spence A, Ferro G, Boffetta P, Saracci R

Objectives A historical cohort study was carried out to investigate mortality from nonmalignant diseases of the genitourinary system among workers in the reinforced plastics industry, where high workroom concentrations of styrene are encountered.

Methods The external comparisons in this report were based on an average of 12.6 years of retrospective follow-up of 35 443 workers who were first employed in the reinforced plastics industry during 1945--1991 and were known to have been exposed to styrene in their work. For the internal comparisons, 2641 subjects with incomplete occupational histories were excluded, leaving 32 802 subjects. Previous individual exposure histories to styrene were reconstructed through job histories and environmental and biological monitoring data.

Results Mortality from nonmalignant diseases of the genitourinary system (N=20) was associated with average exposure to styrene (P for trend 0.05). Weaker increasing trends in risk were seen for time since first exposure and cumulative exposure, while no increase was identified for duration of exposure. There was a significant increasing trend in mortality from nephritis and nephrosis (N=5), associated with an increasing average level of exposure to styrene (P for trend 0.03). No clear trend was observed for time since first exposure, duration of exposure, or cumulative exposure.

Conclusion In this large cohort study of workers exposed to styrene, mortality from nonmalignant diseases of the genitourinary system increased as the average intensity of exposure increased. This finding indicates that other data should be scrutinized.