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Mortality among members of a heavy construction equipment operators union with potential exposure to diesel exhaust emissions.
  1. O Wong,
  2. R W Morgan,
  3. L Kheifets,
  4. S R Larson,
  5. M D Whorton

    Abstract

    A historical prospective mortality study was conducted on a cohort of 34 156 male members of a heavy construction equipment operators union with potential exposure to diesel exhaust emissions. This cohort comprised all individuals who were members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Locals 3 and 3A, for at least one year between 1 January 1964 and 31 December 1978. 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 environmental measurements did not exist, but partial work histories were available for some cohort members through the union dispatch computer tapes. An attempt was made to relate mortality experience to the union members' dispatch histories. Overall mortality for the entire cohort and several subgroups was significantly lower than expected. When cause specific mortality was examined, however, the study provided suggestive evidence for the existence of several potential health problems in this cohort. Mortality from liver cancer for the entire cohort was significantly high. Although mortality from lung cancer for the entire cohort was similar to expected, a positive trend by latency was observed for lung cancer. A significant excess of mortality from lung cancer was found among the retirees and the group for whom no dispatch histories were available. Other dispatch groups showed no evidence of lung cancer excess. In addition, the total cohort experienced significant mortality excess from emphysema and accidental deaths.

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