Comparative assessing for radiological, chemical, and physical exposures at the French uranium conversion plant: Is uranium the only stressor?

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2009 Jul;212(4):398-413. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2008.09.002. Epub 2008 Oct 31.


This study presents the pattern of exposure to uranium and other occupational pollutants known to be potentially carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic and used at the main uranium conversion plant in France. For different uranium compounds specified according to their solubility and purity, and 16 other categories of pollutants: chemicals, fibres, vapours, dust, and heat a time- and plant-specific job exposure matrix (JEM) was created covering the period 1960-2006. For 73 jobs and for each pollutant the amount and frequency of exposure were assessed on a four-level scale by different time periods. The JEM shows 73% sensitivity and 83% specificity. Although exposure assessment was semi-quantitative, the JEM allows computing of individual cumulative exposure score for each pollutant across time. Despite the predominant natural uranium compounds exposure, the amount of exposure to other pollutants such as TCE and other chlorinated products, asbestos, and fibres, is important at the plant. Numerous correlations detected between uranium compounds exposure and exposure to chemicals warrants improving biological monitoring of exposed workers and accounting for associated exposures in epidemiological studies. Results of this study will be used for further investigation of association between exposure and mortality among uranium conversion workers cohort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive / analysis*
  • Asbestos / analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • France
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Time Factors
  • Trichloroethylene / analysis
  • Uranium / adverse effects*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Air Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Asbestos
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Uranium