Cancer risks among workers exposed to metalworking fluids: a systematic review

Am J Ind Med. 1998 Mar;33(3):282-92. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199803)33:3<282::aid-ajim10>;2-w.


Metalworking fluids (MWFs) are commonly used in a variety of industrial machining and grinding operations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates that more that one million workers are exposed to MWFs. NIOSH conducted a comprehensive and systematic review of the epidemiologic studies that examined the association between MWF exposure and cancer. Substantial evidence was found for an increased risk of cancer at several sites (larynx, rectum, pancreas, skin, scrotum, and bladder) associated with at least some MWFs used prior to the mid-1970s. This paper provides the evidence pertaining to cancer at these sites. Cancer at those sites found to have more limited or less consistent evidence for an association with MWF (stomach, esophagus, lung, prostate, brain, colon, and hematopoietic system) will not be discussed in this paper but are discussed in the recent NIOSH Criteria for a Recommended Standard-Occupational Exposure to MWFs. Because the changes in MWF composition that have occurred over the last several decades may not be sufficient to eliminate the cancer risks associated with MWF exposure, reductions in airborne MWF exposures are recommended.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Industrial Oils / adverse effects
  • Industrial Oils / analysis
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lubrication
  • Male
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Medical Records
  • Metallurgy*
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S.
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Rectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Scrotum
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Surface Properties
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational