Cancer mortality among arc welders exposed to fumes containing chromium and nickel. Results of a third follow-up: 1989-1995

J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Apr;41(4):294-303. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199904000-00012.


For the historical follow-up study among arc welders exposed to chromium and nickel, which was started in 1980 in Germany, a third follow-up extending the observation period to the years 1989 through 1995 has been carried out. By 1995, of the 1213 welders and 1688 turners (control group) who were originally included in the study, 274 welders and 448 turners had died. Death certificates could be obtained for approximately 96% of the deceased. Results of the evaluation presented in this article showed that cancer mortality remains significantly increased, compared with the general population and the control group, by approximately 35%. There was an elevation of approximately 50% or 60% in mortality from cancers of the respiratory tract, which is also statistically significant. However, this increase is predominantly due to a large excess in mortality from mesothelioma, which is known to be caused chiefly by asbestos exposure. Lung cancer mortality is nonsignificantly increased by approximately 20% to 30%. An indirect assessment of asbestos-related lung cancers and total cancer indicates that the observed increase of mortality might be mainly due to asbestos exposure. Beyond that, no indication of an elevated cancer risk specifically associated with the exposure to welding fumes containing chromium and nickel could be determined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Brain Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromium / adverse effects*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Nickel / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Welding*


  • Chromium
  • Asbestos
  • Nickel