Exposure of Danish workers to trichloroethylene, 1947-1989

Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2002 Oct;17(10):693-703. doi: 10.1080/10473220290096186.


The aim of this study was to investigate the exposure of Danish workers to trichloroethylene (TCE) and the factors that affected such exposure. Data from Danish health authorities were evaluated for use in an epidemiological study of possible adverse health effects of TCE. The paper files relating to 1,075 air measurements taken between 1947 and 1989 at 150 companies were examined to extract information about calendar year, company, industry, type of measurement, and worker. Multiple regression models were used to analyze the effects of various factors on the concentration of TCE. TCE concentrations decreased over the four decades studied. The geometric mean was 329 mg/m3 for measurements taken 1947-1959, and 260 mg/m3, 53 mg/m3, and 23 mg/m3, respectively, for the three subsequent decades. Regression analyses showed that 1) TCE concentrations decreased on average 4 percent per year before 1964 and 15 percent per year afterward; 2) area and personal measurements gave similar concentrations (for the same calendar period, industry, and duration of measurement); 3) longer-duration measurements were associated with lower TCE concentrations; 4) high TCE concentrations occurred in the iron and metal industry; and, 5) in this industry men were exposed to concentrations two times those of women. Moreover, this study indicated that both the exposure level and the proportion of exposed workers in Danish companies increased with decreasing number of employees. Epidemiological studies of health effects of TCE may benefit from evaluating potential risk within different strata of calendar time, number of company employees, sex, and type of industry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Job Description
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Solvents / analysis*
  • Time Factors
  • Trichloroethylene / adverse effects*
  • Trichloroethylene / analysis*
  • Workplace*


  • Solvents
  • Trichloroethylene