Mortality Experience in Relation to a Measured Arsenic Trioxide Exposure

Environ Health Perspect. 1977 Aug;19:127-30. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7719127.


This report examines the mortality experience of 527 men who retired from a copper smelter where they were exposed to airborne arsenic trioxide. Urinary arsenic values of all plant employees were determined in 1973, and the relative arsenic exposure in the various departments of the plant were determined. The relationship of airborne arsenic concentrations to urinary arsenic values was studied in a separate experiment, and the feasibility of using urinary arsenic values as a measure of arsenic exposure was established. The mortality experience of the cohort under study showed them to have a mortality 12.2% higher than was found for males of the same area at the same ages and in the same time period. The excess mortality was due chiefly to respiratory cancer. When the deaths were classified by total lifetime arsenic exposure, the respiratory cancer mortality was linearly related to the amount of exposure. The 1973 figures for arsenic exposure underestimated the exposure of the cohort group by a factor of possibly 10. Evidence was obtained which suggests that after removal from arsenic exposure, the risk of lung cancer declines. Certain of the data which are presented suggests there may be a threshold value for airborne arsenic trioxide exposure below which no adverse effects may be expected.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / poisoning*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / poisoning*
  • Arsenic / urine
  • Arsenic Poisoning*
  • Copper
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Metallurgy
  • Mortality
  • Oxides
  • Retirement
  • Risk
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors


  • Air Pollutants
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Oxides
  • Copper
  • Arsenic