To explore the feasibility of performing an epidemiologic study of female breast cancer and magnetic field (MF) exposures, we chose to study garment workers, who reportedly have some of the highest MF exposures. We collected personal exposure (PE, n = 48) and survey measurements (n = 77) near commercial sewing machines at three garment facilities and conducted a pilot interview among 25 garment workers asking about exposure duration, activities, and machine characteristics. MF levels were higher for older machines with alternating current (AC) than newer machines with direct current (DC) motors. MF levels were comparable for both idling and sewing activities. Most interviewed workers could describe duration of exposure and machine type (automatic/manual), but not other machine characteristics. Measurements were lower than previously reported for garment workers but were higher than exposures to most women. A historical exposure assessment can be conducted by linking duration of exposure with reconstructed exposure measurements but may be limited by the accuracy of work history data.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.