Mortality experience of a young petrochemical industry cohort. 1979-1992 follow-up study of US-based employees

J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Oct;39(10):970-82. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199710000-00009.


This retrospective study examines the mortality patterns of a relatively young cohort of 81,746 former and current petrochemical company employees. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) for 1979 through 1992 are generally from about unity to well below unity for major causes and numerous specific causes of death studied by gender/race/job subgroups. Findings of note include a SMR (based on incidence rates) of 1.94 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 3.33) for mesothelioma, and a SMR of 1.81 (95% CI, 0.90 to 3.24) for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, both among males hired before 1960. All male semiskilled operatives have a 1.6-fold increase (95% CI, 1.07 to 2.29) in motor vehicle accident deaths, with declining rates since the mid-1980s. The overall SMR for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is at unity (69 deaths), with excesses in technician and office worker subgroups. Four decedents with lymphoma (code 202.8 in 9th revision ICD) had AIDS as a secondary cause of death, suggesting the need to examine secondary causes when studying lymphopoietic conditions. This routine surveillance activity provides leads regarding the presence or absence of excess mortality risk.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / mortality
  • Adult
  • Cause of Death*
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / chemically induced
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / mortality
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced
  • Mesothelioma / mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Petroleum* / adverse effects
  • Pleural Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Pleural Neoplasms / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Petroleum