Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1986;12(5):486-493    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2109 | Issue date: Oct 1986

Estimating the relationship between exposure to tar volatiles and the incidence of bladder cancer in aluminum smelter workers.

by Armstrong BG, Tremblay CG, Cyr D, Theriault GP

A previously reported case-referent study of 85 incident cases of bladder cancer among aluminum smelter workers and 255 matched referents revealed an excess risk among workers exposed to coal-tar pitch volatiles. For the study reported in the present investigation these data have been augmented by estimates of past workplace exposure to total tar (benzene-soluble matter) and to benzo-a-pyrene (BaP). From these new data, exposure-response relationships have been estimated by maximum likelihood. A linear relationship between cumulative exposure and relative risk and a minimum latency period of ten years were assumed on a priori grounds and found compatible with the data. Under these assumptions, relative risk increased for each year of exposure to benzene-soluble matter at a concentration of 1 mg/m3 by 13%, the 95% confidence interval being 5-31. The corresponding figure for BaP (as micrograms/m3 X year) was 2.3%. On the basis of these estimates, 40 years of exposure to benzene-soluble matter at the current exposure limit of 0.2 mg/m3 would lead to a relative risk of 2.4. There was suggestive but not conclusive evidence that relative risks due to exposure to tar volatiles and to cigarette smoke combined multiplicatively.