Mortality of aerospace workers exposed to trichloroethylene

Epidemiology. 1998 Jul;9(4):424-31.


We measured mortality rates in a cohort of 20,508 aerospace workers who were followed up over the period 1950-1993. A total of 4,733 workers had occupational exposure to trichloroethylene. In addition, trichloroethylene was present in some of the washing and drinking water used at the work site. We developed a job-exposure matrix to classify all jobs by trichloroethylene exposure levels into four categories ranging from "none" to "high" exposure. We calculated standardized mortality ratios for the entire cohort and the trichloroethylene exposed subcohort. In the standardized mortality ratio analyses, we observed a consistent elevation for nonmalignant respiratory disease, which we attribute primarily to the higher background rates of respiratory disease in this region. We also compared trichloroethylene-exposed workers with workers in the "low" and "none" exposure categories. Mortality rate ratios for nonmalignant respiratory disease were near or less than 1.00 for trichloroethylene exposure groups. We observed elevated rare ratios for ovarian cancer among those with peak exposure at medium and high levels] relative risk (RR) = 2.74; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.84-8.99] and among women with high cumulative exposure (RR = 7.09; 95% CI = 2.14-23.54). Among those with peak exposures at medium and high levels, we observed slightly elevated rate ratios for cancers of the kidney (RR = 1.89; 95% CI = 0.85-4.23), bladder (RR = 1.41; 95% CI = 0.52-3.81), and prostate (RR = 1.47; 95% CI = 0.85-2.55). Our findings do not indicate an association between trichloroethylene exposure and respiratory cancer, liver cancer, leukemia or lymphoma, or all cancers combined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aircraft
  • Arizona / epidemiology
  • Aviation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Carcinogens / classification
  • Cause of Death
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality
  • Risk
  • Solvents / adverse effects*
  • Trichloroethylene / adverse effects*


  • Carcinogens
  • Solvents
  • Trichloroethylene