Mortality of factory workers in east London 1933-80

Br J Ind Med. 1985 Jan;42(1):4-11. doi: 10.1136/oem.42.1.4.


The mortality of 3000 male factory workers, 1400 laggers, and 700 women factory workers in east London has been studied. The men were first employed between 1933 and 1964, the women between 1936 and 1942. Textiles were produced until the late 1950s as well as other asbestos products. Laggers were employed on contract in increasing numbers in later years. Crocidolite asbestos was used until the late 1950s as well as asmosite and chrysotile. Exposure of workers was graded according to the job into two categories, low/moderate and severe, and subdivided by duration of employment up to two years or longer. Mesothelial tumours accounted for 7.5% of the total mortality in men, and 9% in women with their longer follow up period. Lung cancer accounted for 20% of deaths in men and 14% in women. Both mesothelial tumours and lung cancer showed a dose response relationship. Histopathological examination of a series of predominantly postmortem specimens showed 22% of adenocarcinomas of lung among men and 21% in women. There was an excess of gastrointestinal tumours but no dose response relationship could be shown. Among severely exposed male factory workers there was an excess of deaths from cancer of the larynx and among severely exposed women of carcinoma of the breast and ovary. Twenty four deaths (2%) were due to asbestosis. There is an indication that the incidence of mesothelial tumours is declining but a further period of observation is required for confirmation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Asbestos / adverse effects*
  • Asbestosis / mortality
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Humans
  • London
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / etiology
  • Mesothelioma / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Sex Factors


  • Asbestos