Cancer mortality in an international cohort of workers exposed to styrene

IARC Sci Publ. 1993:(127):289-300.


Increased risks for leukaemia and lymphoma have been suggested in studies of workers exposed to styrene in the rubber and plastics industry. A historical cohort study was conducted in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom involving 40,683 workers employed in the reinforced plastics industry, where high exposure to styrene occurs. Exposure to styrene was reconstructed through job histories, environmental and biological monitoring data and production records of the plants in the study. Cause-specific national death rates were used as the reference. Among exposed workers, no excess was observed for mortality from all causes (2195 deaths, standardized mortality ratio [SMR], 95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 91-99), from all neoplasms, from lung cancer or from other major epithelial cancers. Mortality from neoplasms of the lymphatic and haematopoietic tissues was not elevated (50 deaths; SMR, 96; CI, 71-126) and was not consistently associated with length of exposure. The rate of mortality from leukaemias and lymphomas increased with time since first exposure. Among subjects who had been exposed for more than one year, a two-fold risk was observed 20 years after first exposure (eight deaths; SMR, 197; CI, 85-387). These results are inadequate to exclude the possibility that styrene causes leukaemia and lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / chemically induced
  • Leukemia / mortality
  • Lymphoma / chemically induced
  • Lymphoma / mortality
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Styrene
  • Styrenes / adverse effects*


  • Styrenes
  • Styrene