Mortality of gasworkers - final report of a prospective study

Br J Ind Med. 1972 Oct;29(4):394-406. doi: 10.1136/oem.29.4.394.


Doll, R., Vessey, M. P., Beasley, R. W. R., Buckley, A. R., Fear, E. C., Fisher, R. E. W., Gammon, E. J., Gunn, W., Hughes, G. O., Lee, K., and Norman-Smith, Beatrice (1972).Brit. J. industr. Med.,29, 394-406. Mortality of gasworkers—final report of a prospective study. The mortality experience of selected groups of gasworkers employed by four area Gas Boards and observed over a period of eight years was described by us in a report in 1965. The present paper adds a further four years' data to those previously collected for men having regular exposure in coal carbonizing plants and for men having exposure only to by-products of the gas-making process. To these we have added data relating to men employed by four additional area Gas Boards who have been observed over periods of seven to eight years.

The new data provide confirmation that exposure to the products of coal carbonization can give rise to cancer of the lung and leave little doubt that the risk of bladder cancer is also increased. Two additional deaths from scrotal cancer have been observed; there is evidently still a need for vigilance if this disease is to be treated at a stage early enough to prevent death. With respect to all these cancers, work as a topman appears to be particularly hazardous.

The additional data included in the present report fail to settle the question whether the risk of lung cancer is especially associated with the conditions of work in one particular type of retort house; if there are any differences, however, they are likely to be small.

In our original report, a highly significant association between death from bronchitis and exposure to the coal carbonizing process was described. The more recent data for the four original Gas Boards offer only limited support to the view that bronchitis is a specific occupational hazard of gasworkers, and the data for the four additional Gas Boards provide no further support whatsoever. The explanation for these discrepancies is obscure, but they may be due to the major changes that have been occurring in the industry during the last decade.

No evidence was obtained that by-products workers experience any risk of dying as a result of their occupation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchitis / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • England / epidemiology
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / mortality
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / mortality
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scrotum
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / mortality
  • Wales / epidemiology