Objectives: The aim of this update on a cohort of male paint industry workers was to determine whether an excess of mortality and incidence of lymphatic and hematopoietic tumors, particularly multiple myeloma, still exists, and, if so, to determine if it is due to exposures occurring before the mid-1950s, when benzene disappeared as a solvent in the Swedish paint industry.
Methods: The cohort of 411 men who had worked in the Swedish paint industry and had been exposed to organic solvents for at least 5 years during 1955-1975 was followed from 1961 to 1994 for causes of death in the mortality register and from 1961 to 1992 for cases of cancer in the Swedish cancer register.
Results: The number of paint industry workers who had died, plus the number of deaths in the major disease groups and the number of cancers reported to the cancer registry, was close to the expected. The incidence of prostatic cancer increased somewhat [standardized incidence ratio (SIR) 1.5, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.0-2.2]. Among the workers first employed in 1956 or earlier, there was an increase in both the incidence and mortality from all lymphatic and hematopoietic tumors [SIR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0-2.2; standardized mortality ratio (SMR) 2.0, 95% CI 0.7-4.4]. The excess was particularly marked for multiple myeloma (SIR 3.8, 95% CI 0.8-11; SMR 4.4, 95% CI 0.9-13).
Conclusions: Employment in the Swedish paint industry before 1957 may have entailed some excess risk of lymphatic and hematopoietic tumors, particularly multiple myeloma. A significant excess of prostatic cancer was not linked to any particular employment period and deserves further investigation.