An industry wide mortality study of chemical workers occupationally exposed to benzene. I. General results

Br J Ind Med. 1987 Jun;44(6):365-81. doi: 10.1136/oem.44.6.365.


The cohort (7676) of this historical prospective study consisted of a group of male chemical workers from seven plants who had been occupationally exposed (continuously or intermittently) to benzene for at least six months and a comparison group of male chemical workers from the same plants who had been employed for at least six months during the same period but were never occupationally exposed to benzene. The observed mortality of the cohort, by cause, was compared with the expected based on the US mortality rates, standardised for age, race, sex, and calendar time. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) from all lymphatic and haematopoietic (lymphopoietic) cancer combined, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (lymphosarcoma, reticulosarcoma, and other lymphoma), and non-Hodgkin's lymphopoietic cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukaemia) for the exposed group were slightly, but not significantly, raised above the national norm. These SMRs were considerably higher than those in the comparison group. When the group with no occupational exposure was used for direct comparison, the continuously exposed group experienced a relative risk from lymphopoietic cancer of 3.20 (p less than 0.05). Furthermore, the Mantel-Haenszel chi-square showed that the association between continuous exposure to benzene and leukaemia was statistically significant (p less than 0.05).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Benzene / adverse effects*
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Leukemia / chemically induced
  • Leukemia / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / chemically induced
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Racial Groups
  • United States


  • Benzene