Cancer and occupational exposure to pentachlorophenol and tetrachlorophenol (Canada)

Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Aug;17(6):749-58. doi: 10.1007/s10552-006-0007-9.


Objective: The objective of this study is to assess the carcinogenicity of pentachlorophenol and tetrachlorophenol using data from the BC sawmill workers cohort study.

Methods: The cohort consisted of 27,464 men employed by 14 sawmills for 1 year or more between 1950 and 1995. Fatal (1950-1995) and incident (1969-1995) cancers were identified using national registries. Plant records and systematic interviews with senior employees were used to estimate dermal exposure. Comparisons were made with the general BC population and dose-response relationships were assessed using Poisson regression.

Results: There were 1,495 fatal cancer and 2,571 incident cancers. There were no large or statistically significant excesses of any of the specific cancers were observed compared to the general population. Internal analyses showed strong dose-response relationships for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and kidney cancer. These relationships were strongest when exposure was restricted to pentachlorophenol. The strength of the dose-response increased when exposure was lagged by 20 years.

Conclusions: Dermal exposure to pentachlorophenol was associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and kidney cancer, but not with other cancers of a priori interest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death
  • Chlorophenols / toxicity*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fungicides, Industrial / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / chemically induced
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / mortality
  • Male
  • Multiple Myeloma / chemically induced
  • Multiple Myeloma / mortality
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pentachlorophenol / toxicity*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Chlorophenols
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • tetrachlorophenol
  • Pentachlorophenol