Cancer mortality among workers exposed to formaldehyde

Am J Ind Med. 1984;5(6):423-8. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700050602.


Proportionate mortality among workers exposed to formaldehyde was analyzed among employees of a large chemical plant in Western Massachusetts. Twenty-four such decedents, all males, were identified through union records, reports of former co-workers, and a systematic review of obituaries in local newspaper. Work histories were obtained from seniority lists. Race-age-sex-adjusted proportionate mortality ratios ( PMRs ) were significantly elevated for cancer of the colon based on United States, county, and county cancer mortality proportions (PMR = 702, 424, 333, p less than or equal to .05), as were PMRs for the category buccal and pharyngeal cancer (PMR = 870, 952, 833, p less than .05). This study provides evidence of formaldehyde's carcinogenicity. These findings are at variance with a previous report of the mortality experience of workers at the same plant from an earlier period.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cheek
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Formaldehyde / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Mouth Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Pharyngeal Neoplasms / mortality


  • Formaldehyde