Cancer morbidity in Swedish asphalt workers

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Jan;43(1):104-8. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10157.


Background: Some studies have indicated an increased risk of lung cancer among asphalt workers. This study investigates the risk of lung cancer in Swedish asphalt workers.

Methods: A cohort of 6,150 asphalt workers, mainly employed in road construction, was compared to the general population, and to a reference group of construction workers not exposed to asphalt fumes. The exposure to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) at paving in Sweden during the 1980s and 1990s were estimated to be in the order of one or a few micrograms per cubic meter, but must have been higher in earlier years.

Results: Thirty-two lung cancer cases were observed among asphalt workers. The relative risk (SIR) and 95% confidence intervals were 0.98 (0.67-1.39). The corresponding relative risk, as compared to a group of construction workers and adjusted for smoking habits, was 1.03 (0.70-1.45). We found no increased risk for other cancers investigated or death in other lung diseases.

Conclusions: Asphalt workers do not have any increased lung cancer risk from exposure to fumes and gases from asphalt at the exposure levels that occurred in Sweden during the 1960s and 1970s.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cause of Death
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons*
  • Incidence
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Hydrocarbons
  • asphalt