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Mortality of workers exposed to methylene chloride employed at a plant producing cellulose triacetate film base.
  1. J A Tomenson,
  2. S M Bonner,
  3. C G Heijne,
  4. D G Farrar,
  5. T F Cummings
  1. ICI Epidemiology Unit, Winnington, Northwich, Cheshire.

    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE: To study mortality among 1785 employees of a factory that produced cellulose triacetate film base at Brantham in the United Kingdom. Also, to investigate patterns of mortality after exposure to methylene chloride; in particular, mortality from liver and biliary tract cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and cardiovascular disease. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: All male employees with a record of employment at the film factory in 1946-88. A total of 1473 subjects worked in jobs that entailed exposure to methylene chloride. The mean duration of exposure was nine years at 19 ppm (eight hour time weighted average). RESULTS: In the cohort, 334 deaths were identified up to 31 December 1994. Mortalities for the cohort were compared with national and local rates and expressed as standardised mortality ratios (SMR). In the subcohort of workers exposed to methylene chloride, substantially reduced mortalities compared with national and local rates were found for all causes, all cancers, and the principal cancer sites of interest. The significantly reduced lung cancer mortalities in exposed workers (SMR 48) seemed to reflect the restrictions on smoking at the workplace. In contrast, mortality from ischaemic heart disease in exposed workers, although lower than national rates (SMR 92), was slightly increased compared with local rates. However, mortality from ischaemic heart disease was lower in active employees (SMR 83) where a direct effect of exposure to methylene chloride should be concentrated. No in service mortality due to ischaemic heart disease was found in workers with the highest cumulative exposure (> or = 800 ppm-years). CONCLUSIONS: The study provided no indication that employment at the plant, or exposure to methylene chloride, had adversely affected the mortalities of workers.

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