Evaluation of mortality and cancer incidence among alachlor manufacturing workers

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Jul;104(7):728-33. doi: 10.1289/ehp.96104728.


Alachlor is the active ingredient in a family of preemergence herbicides. We assessed mortality rates from 1968 to 1993 and cancer incidence rates from 1969 to 1993 for manufacturing workers with potential alachlor exposure. For workers judged to have high alachlor exposure, mortality from all causes combined was lower than expected [23 observed, standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 0.7, 95% CI, 0.4-1.0], cancer mortality was similar to expected (6 observed, SMR = 0.7, 95% CI, 0.3-1.6), and there were no cancer deaths among workers with 5 or more years high exposure and 15 or more years since first exposure (2.3 expected, SMR = 0, 95% CI, 0-1.6). Cancer incidence for workers with high exposure potential was similar to the state rate [18 observed, standardized incidence ratio (SIR) = 1.2, 95% CI, 0.7-2.0], especially for workers exposed for 5 or more years and with at least 15 years since first exposure (4 observed, SIR = 1.0, 95% CI, 0.3-2.7). The most common cancer for these latter workers was colorectal cancer (2 observed, SIR 3.9, 95% CI, 0.5-14.2 among workers). Despite the limitations of this study with respect to small size and exposure estimating, the findings are useful for evaluating potential alachlor-related health risks because past manufacturing exposures greatly exceeded those characteristic of agricultural operations. These findings suggest no appreciable effect of alachlor exposure on worker mortality or cancer incidence rates during the study period.

MeSH terms

  • Acetamides / adverse effects*
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Herbicides / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Acetamides
  • Herbicides
  • alachlor