Original Article

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 49-54

First online:

A case-control study of cancer mortality at a transformer-assembly facility

  • Sander GreenlandAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health
  • , Alberto SalvanAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health
  • , David H. WegmanAffiliated withDepartment of Work Environment, University of Massachusetts
  • , Marilyn F. HallockAffiliated withMIT Environmental Health Science
  • , Thomas J. SmithAffiliated withHarvard School of Public Health

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To address earlier reports of excess cancer mortality associated with employment at a large transformer manufacturing plant, each plant operation was rated for seven exposures: Pyranol (a mixture of poly chlorinated biphenyls and trichlorobenzene), trichloroethylene, benzene, mixed solvents, asbestos, synthetic resins, and machining fluids. Site-specific cancer deaths among active or retired employees were cases; controls were selected from deaths (primarily cardiovascular deaths) presumed to be unassociated with any of the study exposures. Using job records, we then computed person-years of exposure for each subject. All subjects were white males. The only unequivocal association was that of resin systems with lung cancer (odds ratio = 2.2 at 16.6 years of exposure, P = 0.001, in a multiple logistic regression including asbestos, age, year of death, and year of hire). Certain other odds ratios appeared larger, but no other association was so robust and remained as distinct after considering the multiplicity of comparisons. Study power was very limited for most associations, and several biases may have affected our results. Nevertheless, further investigation of synthetic resin systems of the type used in the study plant appears warranted.

Key words

Asbestos Cancer mortality Polychlorinated biphenyls Solvents Transformer assembly Synthetic resins