Mortality patterns among industrial workers exposed to chloroprene and other substances. II. Mortality in relation to exposure

Chem Biol Interact. 2007 Mar 20;166(1-3):301-16. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2006.08.012. Epub 2006 Aug 22.


As part of an historical cohort study to investigate the mortality experience of industrial workers exposed to chloroprene (CD) and other substances, including vinyl chloride monomer (VC), we analyzed mortality from all cancers combined, respiratory system (RSC) and liver cancer in relation to CD and VC exposures. Subjects were 12,430 workers ever employed at one of two U.S. sites (Louisville, KY (n=5507) and Pontchartrain, LA (n=1357)) or two European sites (Maydown, Northern Ireland (n=4849) and Grenoble, France (n=717)). Historical exposures for individual workers were estimated quantitatively for CD and VC. For sites L, M, P and G, respectively, average intensity of CD exposures (median value of exposed workers in ppm) were 5.23, 0.16, 0.028 and 0.149 and median cumulative exposures (ppm years) were 18.35, 0.084, 0.133 and 1.01. For sites L and M, respectively, average intensity of VC exposures (median value of exposed workers in ppm) was 1.54 and 0.03 and median cumulative exposures (ppm years) were 1.54 and 0.094. We performed relative risk (RR) regression modeling to investigate the dependence of the internal cohort rates for all cancers combined, RSC and liver cancer on combinations of the categorical CD or VC exposure measures with adjustment for potential confounding factors. We categorized exposure measures into approximate quartiles based on the distribution of deaths from all cancers combined. We also considered 5- and 15-year lagged exposure measures and adjusted some RR models for worker pay type (white/blue collar) as a rough surrogate for lifetime smoking history. All modeling was site-specific to account for exposure heterogeneity. We also computed exposure category-specific standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) to assess absolute mortality rates. With the exception of a one statistically significant association with duration of exposure to CD and all cancers combined in plant M, we observed no evidence of a positive association with all cancers, RSC or liver cancer and exposure to CD and/or VC using both the unlagged and lagged exposure measures: duration, average intensity or cumulative exposure to CD or VC; time since first CD or VC exposure; and duration of CD exposure or time since first CD exposure in presence or absence of VC exposure. We observed elevated and statistically significantly elevated RRs for some analysis subgroups, but these were due to inordinately low death rates in the baseline categories. With the possible exception of all cancer mortality in plant G, our additional adjustment of RRs for pay type revealed no evidence of positive confounding by smoking. We conclude that exposures to CD or VC at the levels encountered in the four study sites do not elevate mortality risks from all cancers, RSC or liver cancer. This conclusion is corroborated by our analysis of general mortality patterns among the CD cohort reported in our companion paper [G. Marsh, A. Youk, J. Buchanich, M. Cunningham, N. Esmen, T. Hall, M. Phillips, Mortality patterns among industrial workers exposed to chloroprene and other substances. I. General mortality patterns, Chem.-Biol. Interact., submitted for publication].

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Industry*
  • Chloroprene / adverse effects*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vinyl Chloride / adverse effects*
  • Workforce


  • Chloroprene
  • Vinyl Chloride