Update of a cohort mortality study of workers exposed to methylene chloride employed at a plant producing cellulose triacetate film base
To update the mortality experience of employees of a factory that produced cellulose triacetate film base at Brantham in the United Kingdom and generate information on the effects of exposure to methylene chloride, in particular, mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancers of the lung, liver and biliary tract, pancreas and brain.
All 1,785 male employees with a record of employment at the film factory in 1946–1988 were followed through 2006, including 1,473 subjects exposed to methylene chloride on average for 9 years at a concentration of 19 ppm (8 h time-weighted average).
A total of 559 deaths occurred during the follow-up period. In the subcohort of workers exposed to methylene chloride, substantially reduced mortalities compared with national and local rates were found for all causes, all cancers, and all the principal cancer sites of interest except for brain cancer. There was a small excess of brain cancer deaths (8 observed and 4.4 expected), but no evidence of an association with exposure to methylene chloride. Lung cancer mortality was significantly reduced in exposed workers, even compared to the low mortality rate in the local population (SMR 55). In contrast, mortality from ischaemic heart disease in exposed workers was slightly increased compared with local rates (SMR 102), but was lower in active employees (SMR 94; local rates), where a direct effect of exposure to methylene chloride should be concentrated.
The study provided no indication that employment at the plant, or exposure to methylene chloride, had adversely affected the mortalities of workers.
KeywordsMethylene chloride Mortality study Cohort study Photographic film
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