Cancer mortality among man-made vitreous fiber production workers

Epidemiology. 1997 May;8(3):259-68. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199705000-00006.


We have updated the follow-up of cancer mortality for a cohort study of man-made vitreous fiber production workers from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy, from 1982 to 1990. In the mortality analysis, 22,002 production workers contributed 489,551 person-years, during which there were 4,521 deaths. Workers with less than 1 year of employment had an increased mortality [standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.37-1.53]. Workers with 1 year or more of employment, contributing 65% of person-years, had an SMR of 1.05 (95% CI = 1.02-1.09). The SMR for lung cancer was 1.34 (95% CI = 1.08-1.63, 97 deaths) among rock/slag wool workers and 1.27 (95% CI = 1.07-1.50, 140 deaths) among glass wool workers. In the latter group, no increase was present when local mortality rates were used. Among rock/slag wool workers, the risk of lung cancer increased with time-since-first-employment and duration of employment. The trend in lung cancer mortality according to technologic phase at first employment was less marked than in the previous follow-up. We obtained similar results from a Poisson regression analysis limited to rock/slag wool workers. Five deaths from pleural mesothelioma were reported, which may not represent an excess. There was no apparent excess for other categories of neoplasm. Tobacco smoking and other factors linked to social class, as well as exposures in other industries, appear unlikely to explain the whole increase in lung cancer mortality among rock/slag wool workers. Limited data on other agents do not indicate an important role of asbestos, slag, or bitumen. These results are not sufficient to conclude that the increased lung cancer risk is the result of exposure to rock/slag wool; however, insofar as respirable fibers were an important component of the ambient pollution of the working environment, they may have contributed to the increased risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mineral Fibers / adverse effects*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Mineral Fibers