Epidemiology

BJC Open article

British Journal of Cancer (2008) 99, 822–829. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604564 www.bjcancer.com
Published online 19 August 2008

Occupational exposure to asbestos and mortality among asbestos removal workers: a Poisson regression analysis

G Frost1, A-H Harding1, A Darnton2, D McElvenny2,3 and D Morgan1

  1. 1Health & Safety Laboratory, Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9JN, UK
  2. 2Health & Safety Executive, Redgrave Court, Bootle, Merseyside L20 7HS, UK

Correspondence: G Frost, E-mail: Gillian.Frost@hsl.gov.uk

3Current address: University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE, UK.

Received 9 May 2008; Revised 21 July 2008; Accepted 21 July 2008
Advance online publication 19 August 2008

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Abstract

The asbestos industry has shifted from manufacture to stripping/removal work. The aim of this study was to investigate early indications of mortality among removal workers. The study population consisted of 31302 stripping/removal workers in the Great Britain Asbestos Survey, followed up to December 2005. Relative risks (RR) for causes of death with elevated standardised mortality ratios (SMR) and sufficient deaths were obtained from Poisson regression. Risk factors considered included dust suppression technique, type of respirator used, hours spent stripping, smoking status and exposure length. Deaths were elevated for all causes (SMR 123, 95% CI 119–127, n=985), all cancers including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and circulatory disease. There were no significant differences between suppression techniques and respirator types. Spending more than 40h per week stripping rather than less than 10, increased mortality risk from all causes (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2–1.7), circulatory disease and ischaemic heart disease. Elevated mesothelioma risks were observed for those first exposed at young ages or exposed for more than 30 years. This study is a first step in assessing long-term mortality of asbestos removal workers in relation to working practices and asbestos exposure. Further follow-up will allow the impact of recent regulations to be assessed.

Keywords:

asbestos; mortality; Great Britain; occupational exposure; asbestos removal

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