Cancer mortality in a pigment plant utilizing lead and zinc chromates

Arch Environ Health. Jan-Feb 1982;37(1):44-52. doi: 10.1080/00039896.1982.10667532.


Several studies of workers exposed to various forms of chromium compounds have suggested an increased incidence of respiratory cancers. Lead and zinc chromates were among the chromium compounds implicated. The Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health of the New Jersey Medical School undertook a detailed mortality study of a pigment plant in Newark which utilized both of these compounds. We compared observed deaths from each cause among 1296 white and 650 non-white males who were employed at the plant between January 1, 1940 and December 31, 1969, with expected deaths, as computed from cause-, age-, and time-specific standard death rates for the United States. A statistically significant relative risk of 1.6 for lung cancer among white male employees was found, as well as among the cohorts of white males employed 10 yr or more. A relative risk of 1.9 was noted for individuals employed at least 2 yr who were at least moderately exposed to chromates. An increased incidence of lung cancer among non-white males and stomach and pancreatic cancer among the total cohort was also evident. These data support the validity of the association between chromate pigment exposure and lung cancer, suggesting that pigment workers and other exposed to chromates be observed carefully in regard to possible risk or pancreatic and stomach cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blacks
  • Chromates / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Lead
  • Lead Poisoning*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • New Jersey
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Paint / poisoning
  • Risk
  • Smoking
  • Whites
  • Zinc / poisoning*
  • Zinc Compounds*


  • Chromates
  • Zinc Compounds
  • zinc chromate
  • Lead
  • lead chromate
  • Zinc