Half-century of cause-specific mortality experience of chemical manufacturing employees

Am J Ind Med. 1994 Aug;26(2):203-19. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700260206.


Cause-specific mortality was surveyed among 23,180 male (580,000 person-years) and 3,860 female (86,898 person-years) employees with 1 or more years of service from 1940 through 1989 at a large chemical plant. Vital status was ascertained for 99.1% of the males (n = 5,658 deaths) and 98.6% of the females (n = 355 deaths). Comparisons of observed mortality with expected levels based on any of three population comparisons (United States, Texas, or five local counties) showed lower mortality for all causes of death, diseases of the circulatory system, diabetes mellitus, and cirrhosis of the liver. There was an increased risk for lung cancer mortality among male operations employees when compared to the U.S. and Texas populations but not to the local five-county region. Additional evidence suggests this increase was primarily attributable to cigarette smoking. Male operations employees also had an elevated, although not statistically significant, risk for kidney cancer. Prior research had shown an association with work in the cell maintenance area of chlorine production. As a result of a high prevalence of deaths certified by justices of the peace, a mortality excess was observed of cancer of other and unspecified sites and symptoms, senility, and ill-defined conditions. Although specific chemical exposures were not studied, the generally favorable mortality experience suggests that major hazards are unlikely.

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Industry*
  • Death Certificates
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Male
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Texas / epidemiology