Mortality study of workers employed in 1,3-butadiene production units identified from a large chemical workers cohort

Toxicology. 1996 Oct 28;113(1-3):157-68. doi: 10.1016/0300-483x(96)03441-5.


The IARC has given the designations of "sufficient evidence" of carcinogenicity of 1,3-butadiene in experimental animals and "limited evidence" of carcinogenicity in humans. To investigate the carcinogenic effect in humans, a cohort mortality study was conducted among 364 men who were assigned to any of three 1,3-butadiene production units located within several chemical plants in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia, including 277 men employed in a U.S. Rubber Reserve Plant which operated during World War II. The butadiene production units included in this study were selected from an index developed by the Union Carbide Corporation which listed for each chemical production unit within their South Charleston and Institute plants all products, by-products and reactants. Departments included in the study were those where butadiene was a primary product and neither benzene nor ethylene oxide was present. A total of 185 deaths were observed; the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for all causes of death was 91, reflecting lower mortality among the study population than the U.S. population. The study found a significantly elevated standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for lymphosarcoma and reticulosarcoma based on four observed cases (SMR = 577; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 157-1480), which persisted in an analysis using county referent rates. An excess of lymphosarcoma and reticulosarcoma among all workers and among workers with routine exposure to 1,3-butadiene was also observed in the only other cohort of 1,3-butadiene production workers previously studied. A statistically non-significant excess of stomach cancer was observed in the overall cohort (five cases; SMR = 243; CI = 79-568) that was most pronounced among workers employed in the Rubber Reserve plant for 2 or more years (five cases; SMR = 657; CI = 213-1530). We conclude that the results of this study add to the weight of evidence suggesting that butadiene is carcinogenic in humans.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Butadienes / toxicity*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*


  • Butadienes
  • Carcinogens
  • 1,3-butadiene