The cohort of viscose rayon workers previously described by Tiller et al has been reconstructed and followed up to the end of 1982. The pattern of mortality at ages 45 to 64 for the extended period 1950-82 is similar to that described by Tiller et al for 1950-64. The spinners, the workers most heavily exposed to carbon disulphide, have a significantly higher mortality from all causes than the least exposed group. The excess mortality is largely accounted for by ischaemic heart disease (IHD) for which the spinners have an SMR of 172. When mortality is related to an exposure score in the same group, both all cause (p less than 0.01) and IHD (p less than 0.001) mortality increase with increasing exposure level. When this analysis is repeated covering all ages these trends become much less strong and only that for IHD remains significant (p less than 0.05). Over the age of 65 there is a tendency for mortality to decline with increasing exposure. This is contrary to expectation under the usual hypothesis that carbon disulphide promotes atherosclerosis. Instead it suggests that carbon disulphide has some type of reversible, direct cardiotoxic or thrombotic effect. This is supported by the findings that there is a strong trend (p less than 0.01) for IHD mortality to increase with increasing exposure in the previous two years. Further, both IHD (p less than 0.001) and total (p less than 0.01) mortality show highly significant trends with exposure among current workers but no such trends among workers who have left the industry.
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