Mortality among United States Coast Guard marine inspectors

Arch Environ Health. May-Jun 1989;44(3):150-6. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1989.9935879.


Work history records and fitness reports were obtained for 1,767 marine inspectors of the U.S. Coast Guard between 1942 and 1970 and for a comparison group of 1,914 officers who had never been marine inspectors. Potential exposure to chemicals was assessed by one of the authors (RP), who is knowledgeable about marine inspection duties. Marine inspectors and noninspectors had a deficit in overall mortality compared to that expected from the general U.S. population (standardized mortality ratios [SMRs = 79 and 63, respectively]). Deficits occurred for most major causes of death, including infectious and parasitic diseases, digestive and urinary systems, and accidents. Marine inspectors had excesses of cirrhosis of the liver (SMR = 136) and motor vehicle accidents (SMR = 107), and cancers of the lymphatic and hematopoietic system (SMR = 157), whereas noninspectors had deficits for these causes of death. Comparison of mortality rates directly adjusted to the age distribution of the inspectors and noninspectors combined also demonstrated that mortality for these causes of death was greater among inspectors than noninspectors (directly adjusted ratio ratios of 190, 145, and 198) for cirrhosis of the liver, motor vehicle accidents, and lymphatic and hematopoietic system cancer, respectively. The SMRs rose with increasing probability of exposure to chemicals for motor vehicle accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and leukemia, which suggests that contact with chemicals during inspection of merchant vessels may be involved in the development of these diseases among marine inspectors.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Myeloproliferative Disorders / mortality
  • Ships