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Mortality of workers potentially exposed to organic and inorganic brominated chemicals, DBCP, TRIS, PBB, and DDT.
  1. O Wong,
  2. W Brocker,
  3. H V Davis,
  4. G S Nagle

    Abstract

    A historical prospective mortality study was conducted on 3579 white male workers employed between 1935 and 1976 with potential exposures to brominated compounds including 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP), Tris (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), various organic and inorganic bromides, and DDT. The vital status as of 31 December 1976 was determined for 3384 (95%) of these workers: 2806 (79%) were still living and 578 (16%) had died. Death certificates were obtained for 541 deaths (94% of all deaths). The mortality experience of the entire cohort and several subcohorts was compared with that of United States white men adjusted for age and calendar time. The comparison statistic was the commonly used standardised mortality ratio (SMR). Historical industrial hygiene data were not available, and the workers were classified by their work areas or departments in order to estimate their potential exposures. Overall mortality for the entire cohort and several subgroups was significantly lower than expected. For the entire cohort, significant mortality deficits were observed in diseases of the circulatory system, non-malignant respiratory disease, and diseases of the digestive system. On the other hand, mortality from diabetes mellitus was significantly raised for the cohort. No significant overall or cause-specific mortality excess was detected among employees potentially exposed to either TRIS or DDT. A significant mortality excess due to diseases of the circulatory system was observed among workers potentially exposed to DBCP. Mortality from testicular cancer was significantly higher than expected among those potentially exposed to other organic bromides. The common potential exposure of those who had died of testicular cancer was methyl bromide. Owing to the lack of accurate historical exposure information and the fact that many workers were potentially exposed to a multitude of chemicals, it is difficult to draw definitive statements on the causations of the observed mortality excesses.

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