Mortality study in an Italian oil refinery: extension of the follow-up

Am J Ind Med. 1999 Mar;35(3):287-94. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199903)35:3<287::aid-ajim9>;2-f.


This article present the results of the extension of the follow-up of a cohort of workers employed in an Italian oil refinery. 1,583 workers employed in 1949-1982 in a northern Italy oil refinery plant were followed-up for mortality as of May 31, 1991. Environmental measurements documented potential exposure to benzene. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) and their 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using as references national (1949-1968) and regional mortality rates (1969-1991). Elevated mortality from lymphoma (seven deaths, SMR 190, 95% CI 76-391) and leukemia (eight deaths, SMR 225, 95% CI 97-443) was observed. No consistent trends by length of employment or time since first exposure were apparent. Nonetheless, the excess risk was particularly and significantly increased among workers with 15 or more years of employment, and 30 or more years since first employment. The findings of elevated mortality from leukemia and lymphoma are in agreement with those of other oil refinery studies. Chance, confounding, or other biases might have played a marginal, if any, role in determining the results. Exposure to benzene is a biologically plausible explanation.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Extraction and Processing Industry
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Leukemia / chemically induced
  • Leukemia / mortality
  • Lymphoma / chemically induced
  • Lymphoma / mortality
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Petroleum*
  • Time Factors


  • Carcinogens
  • Petroleum