Mortality in the German porcelain industry 1985-2005: first results of an epidemiological cohort study

J Occup Environ Med. 2009 Mar;51(3):373-85. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181973e19.

Abstract

Objectives: To evaluate mortality due to lung cancer, silicosis, renal cancer, renal disease and other causes among German porcelain production workers potentially exposed to crystalline silica.

Methods: Seventeen thousand six hundred forty-four medical surveillance participants (1985-1987) were followed through 2005 for mortality. Cause-specific Standardized Mortality Ratios (SMR) and 95% confidence intervals were estimated.

Results: Women (SMR = 0.85; 95% CI = 0.78 to 0.93), but not men, demonstrated a healthy worker effect. Lung and renal cancers, and renal disease (non-malignant renal disease) were not associated with employment or exposure surrogates. Mortality was increased from silicosis (SMR = 7.20; 95% CI = 2.32 to 16.8) liver (SMR = 1.99; 95% CI = 1.29 to 2.93) and pancreatic (SMR = 1.71; 95% CI = 1.18 to 2.41) cancers among men, and diabetes among women (SMR = 1.74; 95% CI = 1.07 to 2.65). A sub-cohort of Bavarian workers generated similar but generally higher SMRs.

Conclusions: Silicosis mortality was increased in this, among the largest studies to date. However, associations previously observed between crystalline silica exposure and renal or lung cancers or non-malignant renal disease were not supported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dental Porcelain*
  • Epidemiologic Studies*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Population Surveillance
  • Silicon Dioxide / poisoning

Substances

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dental Porcelain
  • Silicon Dioxide