Exposure to arsenic and respiratory cancer. A reanalysis

Am J Epidemiol. 1987 Jun;125(6):929-38. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a114631.


This paper is a reanalysis of data on the respiratory cancer mortality experience of 2,802 men who worked one year or more during the period 1940-1964 at a copper smelter in Tacoma, Washington. Exposure estimates presented earlier have been recalculated and perhaps improved. While the previous analysis showed only a weak relation between respiratory cancer and arsenic exposure, use of new data shows a much stronger relation--but one that is concave downward and not ordinarily considered for environmental exposure and cancer. This new analysis indicates that arsenic is probably more potent as a carcinogen than indicated by other studies. It also demonstrates the distinction between airborne arsenic and the bioavailability of arsenic, and the importance of this distinction for risk assessment. When a dose-response relation is based on airborne concentrations of arsenic, it is clearly concave downward, but when based on urine concentrations, it appears to be linear.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / adverse effects*
  • Copper*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metallurgy*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / mortality
  • Risk
  • Washington


  • Copper
  • Arsenic