Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1999;25(3):222-226    pdf


Cancer incidence among European man-made vitreous fiber production workers

by Boffetta P, Andersen A, Hansen J, Olsen JH, Plato N, Teppo L, Westerholm P, Saracci R

Objectives This study analyzed cancer incidence among man-made vitreous fiber workers.

Methods A cancer incidence follow-up was conducted among 3685 rock-slag wool (RSW) and 2611 glass wool (GW) production workers employed for ³1 year in Denmark, Finland, Norway, or Sweden, and the standardized incidence ratios (SIR) were calculated on the basis of national incidence rates.

Results Overall cancer incidence was close to expectation. Lung cancer incidence was increased among the RSW [SIR 1.08, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.85-1.36] and GW (SIR 1.28, 95% CI 0.91-1.74) workers. For both subcohorts, a trend was suggested for time since first employment (P-value for linear trend 0.1 and 0.2, respectively). Neither subcohort showed an association with employment during the early technological phase, when fiber exposure was high. The incidence of oral, pharyngeal, and laryngeal cancer was increased among the RSW (SIR 1.46, 95% CI 0.99-2.07 ) and the GW (SIR 1.41, 95% CI 0.80-2.28) subcohorts. Despite a trend in risk for these neoplasms among the GW workers with time since first employment, the lack of a positive relation with other indirect indicators of fiber exposure points against a causal interpretation. No association between RSW or GW exposure and the risk of other neoplasms was suggested.

Conclusion These lung cancer results are similar to those of a mortality study that included a larger number of factories. For other cancers there was no suggestion of an association with RSW or GW exposure.