Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1995;21(5):353-361    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.49

Cancer incidence, mortality, and exposure-response calculations among Swedish man-made vitreous fiber production workers

by Plato N, Westerholm P, Gustavsson P, Hemmingsson T, Hogstedt C, Krantz S

Objective The objective of this study was to provide an extended follow-up of workers in three Swedish plants producing man-made vitreous fibers (MMVF) Methods Mortality and cancer incidence was investigated among 3539 male and female workers, employed for at least one year before 1978. Mortality was followed from 1952 to 1990 and cancer incidence from 1958 to 1989. National and regional mortality and cancer incidence rates were used to calculate expected numbers.

Results Twenty-seven lung cancer deaths were observed compared to 23 expected (standardized mortality ratio 117, 95% confidence interval 81--176), based on regional mortality. With a latency of 30 years, the lung cancer risk was significantly elevated, but no trend was found for the standardized mortality ratio with increasing duration of exposure to MMVF. The lung cancer and stomach cancer mortality was higher in the rock wool plants than in the fiber glass industry. Fiber exposure from 1938 to 1990 was estimated in the two rock wool plants by applying a model for historical fiber exposure estimation, specific for different job titles in the rock wool production industry. No relationship was found between individually cumulated rock wool fiber exposure and lung cancer nor stomach cancer risk.

Conclusion The numbers of lung cancers and stomach cancer cases were low and did not therefore allow more general conclusion regarding the cancer hazard for exposed workers. A large European study in progress will probably allow more precise conclusions.