Cancer mortality in workers employed at a transformer manufacturing plant

Am J Ind Med. 1994 Mar;25(3):425-37. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700250310.


This study examined mortality to December 31, 1989 in a cohort of 2,222 males employed between 1947 and 1975 at a transformer manufacturing plant in Canada, where there had been extensive use of transformer fluid, some containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). A combined cohort list of 2,222 names was independently obtained from plant management and union officials. Mortality of 1,939 workers with known birthdates was ascertained by record linkage with the Canadian Mortality Data-base. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for different criteria for acceptance of the death certificate link and for cohort membership (based on work history) ranged from .71-1.05. There was no significant increase in overall cancer deaths. The only significant site-specific increased mortality was pancreatic cancer (11 deaths), with SMRs ranging from 2.92-7.64 and higher mortality risk in those who entered the cohort prior to 1960. All but one of these deaths had a latency period of at least 10 years, and greatest SMRs were found in departments with the greatest exposure to transformer fluid. Several previous studies have found excess pancreatic cancers in association with oil exposures and electrical equipment manufacturing. The need to further investigate pancreatic cancer in transformer manufacturing and related exposures is evident.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electricity
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Male
  • Mineral Oil / adverse effects*
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Petroleum / adverse effects
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / adverse effects*


  • Petroleum
  • Mineral Oil
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls