Incidence of cancer among welders and other shipyard workers with information on previous work history

J Occup Environ Med. 2000 Jan;42(1):101-9. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200001000-00023.


The incidence of cancer among 4480 shipyard workers, including 861 welders, was investigated for a potential relationship between exposure to welding fumes and lung cancer. A subcohort of 3150 workers with information on previous work history was studied separately. This investigation is a historical prospective cohort study. Environmental air samples were collected in 1973, 1977, and 1989. Information on smoking habits was surveyed in 1976 and 1984. The employment work histories were collected from the personnel register. There were 411 observed cancers of all sites versus 387.5 expected, and 45 cases of lung cancer versus 51.3 expected. Nine cases of lung cancer were found among the welders versus 7.1 expected. Among 310 former seamen with welding experience, there was 1 case of lung cancer versus 2.1 expected. These shipyard workers showed no excess risk of lung cancer. Tobacco smoking and asbestos exposure are potential confounders in the study. There was no clear relationship between exposure to welding fumes and lung cancer, but welders with the longest experience had a relative risk of 1.9 for lung cancer. The differences in lung cancer incidence among the different shipyard workers could not be attributed to differences in recruitment patterns or previous work history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Industry
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Ships
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Welding*