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Exposure to carcinogens for defined job categories in Norway’s offshore petroleum industry, 1970 to 2005
  1. Kjersti Steinsvåg,
  2. Magne Bråtveit,
  3. Bente E Moen
  1. Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Section for Occupational Medicine, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 K Steinsvåg
 Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Section for Occupational Medicine, University of Bergen, Kalfarveien 31, N-5018 Bergen, Norway; kjersti.steinsvag{at}isf.uib.no

Abstract

Objectives: To identify and describe the exposure to selected known and suspected carcinogenic agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for defined job categories in Norway’s offshore petroleum industry from 1970 to 2005, in order to provide exposure information for a planned cohort study on cancer.

Methods: Background information on possible exposure was obtained through company visits, including interviewing key personnel (n = 83) and collecting monitoring reports (n = 118) and other relevant documents (n = 329). On the basis of a previous questionnaire administered to present and former offshore employees in 1998, 27 job categories were defined.

Results: This study indicated possible exposure to 18 known and suspected carcinogenic agents, mixtures or exposure circumstances. Monitoring reports were obtained on seven agents (benzene, mineral oil mist and vapour, respirable and total dust, asbestos fibres, refractory ceramic fibres, formaldehyde and tetrachloroethylene). The mean exposure level of 367 personal samples of benzene was 0.037 ppm (range: less than the limit of detection to 2.6 ppm). Asbestos fibres were detected (0.03 fibres/cm3) when asbestos-containing brake bands were used in drilling draw work in 1988. Personal samples of formaldehyde in the process area ranged from 0.06 to 0.29 mg/m3. Descriptions of products containing known and suspected carcinogens, exposure sources and processes were extracted from the collected documentation and the interviews of key personnel.

Conclusions: This study described exposure to 18 known and suspected carcinogenic agents, mixtures and exposure circumstances for 27 job categories in Norway’s offshore petroleum industry. For a planned cohort study on cancer, quantitative estimates of exposure to benzene, and mineral oil mist and vapour might be developed. For the other agents, information in the present study can be used for further assessment of exposure, for instance, by expert judgement. More systematic exposure surveillance is needed in this industry. For future studies, new monitoring programmes need to be implemented.

  • CRN, Cancer Registry of Norway
  • IARC, International Agency of Research on Cancer
  • NDT, non-destructive testing
  • RCF, refractory ceramic fibre

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Footnotes

  • Published Online First 16 October 2006

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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