Mortality in a cohort of antimony smelter workers

Am J Ind Med. 1995 May;27(5):759-70. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700270510.


Animal studies show that antimony may cause lung cancer and heart and lung disease in rodents. In exposed humans, ECG abnormalities and heart and lung disease have been reported. This mortality study of 1,014 men employed between 1937 and 1971 in a Texas antimony smelter consisted primarily of workers of Spanish ancestry (n = 928, 91.5%). Hispanics are known to smoke at much lower rates than non-Hispanics, and their lung cancer and heart disease mortality is generally low. When ethnic-specific Texas lung cancer death rates were used for comparison, mortality from lung cancer among antimony workers was elevated (SMR) 1.39, 90% CI 1.01-1.88), and we observed a significant positive trend in mortality with increasing duration of employment. When ischemic heart disease death rates from three different Spanish-surnamed populations were used for comparison, the rate ratios for mortality from ischemic heart disease were 0.91 (90% CI 0.84-1.09), 1.22 (90% CI 0.78-1.89), and 1.49 (90% CI 0.84-2.63). Pneumoconiosis/ other lung disease death rates for Spanish-surnamed men were unavailable and so calculation of rate ratios used white males as a comparison population (SMR 1.22; 90% CI 0.80-1.80). These data suggest some increased mortality from lung cancer and perhaps nonmalignant respiratory heart disease in workers exposed to antimony. However, conclusions are limited by possible confounders and the difficulty of identifying appropriate referent groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimony / adverse effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Diseases / ethnology
  • Lung Diseases / etiology
  • Lung Diseases / mortality*
  • Lung Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Metallurgy*
  • Occupational Diseases / ethnology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • Texas / epidemiology


  • Antimony