Historical estimation of exposure to 1,3-butadiene, styrene, and dimethyldithiocarbamate among synthetic rubber workers

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2004 Jun;1(6):371-90. doi: 10.1080/15459620490452004.


Quantitative estimates of exposure to 1,3-butadiene (BD), styrene (STY), and dimethyldithiocarbamate (DMDTC) were developed for a follow-up study of workers at six North American synthetic rubber plants. Procedures entailed identifying tasks and jobs involving exposure, identifying factors influencing historical changes in exposure potential, and using mathematical models to calculate job- and time-period-specific exposures. Exposure metrics included 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) intensity, the annual number of peak exposures (BD: >100 ppm, STY: >50 ppm) and TWA intensity below and above the peak threshold. The 5th and 95th percentiles of the approximate probability distribution of each exposure estimate served as its 90% uncertainty interval. Job- and year-specific estimates were linked with subjects' work histories to obtain cumulative exposure indices. Exposure estimates varied among tasks, jobs, plants, and time periods. BD TWAs were approximately 10 ppm during the 1940s-1960s and declined during the 1970s and 1980s. STY TWAs were always <2 ppm. DMDTC exposure began in the 1950s, was high through the 1960s, and later declined. BD peak exposure accounted for a large proportion of cumulative BD exposure, whereas almost none of the STY exposure was experienced at levels >50 ppm. Exposure indices were correlated. Exposures were higher than previously estimated. Multiple correlations among DMDTC, BD, and STY exposure estimates make it difficult to estimate agent-specific effects. Limitations of the methodology include the potential inaccuracy of the estimates, the lack of adequate industrial hygiene data to validate the estimates, the additional inaccuracy of linkage with poorly specified job groups, and the potential for differential exposure misclassification because the jobs and work areas where excess leukemia mortality occurred were well-known at the time of this study. Nevertheless, the new exposure estimates were highly correlated with the old, yielding equivalent exposure ranking of workers and were comparable to limited industrial hygiene data published by NIOSH.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Butadienes / analysis*
  • Chemical Industry / history*
  • Dimethyldithiocarbamate / analysis*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Job Description
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Mutagens / analysis*
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Occupational Exposure / history*
  • Reference Values
  • Rubber*
  • Styrene / analysis*
  • United States


  • Butadienes
  • Dimethyldithiocarbamate
  • Mutagens
  • Styrene
  • Rubber
  • 1,3-butadiene