The cardiovascular mortality of a cohort of 343 Finnish men exposed for at least five years to carbon disulphide (CS2) in a viscose rayon plant has been monitored prospectively from 1967 to 1982. The results from the first five years of follow up in 1972 showed a 4.7-fold excess mortality for ischaemic and other heart diseases (ICD A83-A84) compared with a comparable reference cohort of paper mill workers. After 1972 a preventive intervention programme instituted at the rayon plant included removing all workers with coronary risk factors from exposure. Thus only 19% of the exposed cohort continued to be exposed in 1977 compared with 53% in 1972. Moreover, exposure levels were reduced after 1972 in compliance with the set hygienic standard of 10 ppm. These measures were reflected in a normalisation of the risk of cardiovascular death; the relative risk was 1.0 in the period after the intervention (1 July 1974 to 30 June 1982), whereas it had previously been 3.2 (from 1 July 1972 to 30 June 1974). The risk of a fatal heart attack remained at 11.6% throughout the 15 year follow up period (95% confidence limits 8.5%-15.4%) among the exposed compared with 7.8% (5.3%-11.2%) among the unexposed. The entire risk difference of 3.8% was accumulated during the first seven years of follow up. Thus we can estimate that 59 CS2-related cardiovascular deaths would have occurred during the next eight years (instead of the actual 19 deaths) had there been no preventive action. Calculations yielded a preventive fraction of 68%.
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