Vital status on 1 January 1981 was determined for a cohort of 1412 white men employed in a flavour and fragrance chemical plant between 1945 and 1965 in order to investigate the risks from fatal diseases among men exposed to multiple chemicals in the manufacture of fragrances, flavours, aroma chemicals, and other organic substances. Cause specific standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated for the entire study population and for several subsets by likelihood of exposure to chemicals, duration of employment, and year of hire. SMRs for rectal cancer and ischaemic heart disease were raised among white male employees whose jobs were in production, maintenance, laboratory, or other jobs that would involve exposure to multiple chemicals used and produced in the plant. The excess of rectal cancer was confined to employees who had worked as chemical operators and mortality was significantly raised among men who worked for ten or more years. Traces of dioxin were recently found in and around plant buildings that used trichlorophenol in the production of hexachlorophene. The study group was small and had limited power to detect excess risk of rare causes of death; however, no soft tissue sarcomas were observed during the study period.
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