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Mortality, morbidity, and haematological results from a cohort of long-term workers involved in 1,3-butadiene monomer production.
  1. S R Cowles,
  2. S P Tsai,
  3. P J Snyder,
  4. C E Ross
  1. Shell Oil Company, Corporate Medical Department, Houston, Texas 77252-2463.

    Abstract

    A retrospective mortality analysis and prospective morbidity and haematological analyses were performed for Shell Deer Park Manufacturing Complex (DPMC) male employees who worked in jobs with potential exposure to 1,3-butadiene from 1948 to 1989. 614 employees qualified for the mortality study (1948-89), 438 of those were still employed during the period of the morbidity study (1982-9), and 429 of those had haematological data available for analysis. Industrial hygiene data from 1979 to 1992 showed that most butadiene exposures did not exceed 10 ppm (eight-hour time weighted average (8 hour TWA)), and most were below 1 ppm, with an arithmetic mean of 3.5 ppm. 24 deaths occurred during the mortality study period. For all causes of death, the standardised mortality ratio (SMR) was 48 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) = 31-72), and the all cancer SMR was 34 (95% CI = 9-87). There were only two deaths due to lung cancer (SMR 42, 95% CI = 5-151) and none due to lymphohaematopoietic cancer (expected = 1.2). Morbidity (illness absence) events of six days or more for the 438 butadiene employees were compared with the rest of the complex. No cause of morbidity was in excess for this group; the all cause standardised morbidity ratio (SMbR) was 85 (95% CI = 77-93) and the all neoplasms SMbR was 51 (95% CI = 22-100). Haematological results for the 429 with laboratory data were compared with results for the rest of the complex. No significant differences occurred between the two groups and the distributions of results between butadiene and non-butadiene groups were virtually identical. These results suggest that butadiene exposures at concentrations common at DPMC in the past 10-20 years do not pose a health hazard to employees.

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