Objectives To determine the relationship between exposure to hard-metal dusts and lung cancer mortality. This international cohort study is coordinated by the Universityof Pittsburghand funded by the International Tungsten Industry Association (Marsh et al 2013, EPICOH abstract). The German component comprises three Kennametal manufacturing sites in North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria.
Methods We enrolled all current and former workers at two Bavarian sites (start of production 1960 and 1971 respectively). At the largest plant in North Rhine-Westphalia (start of production 1926) we will enrol all blue-collar workers who were employed for at least 6 months. We will collect and analyse measurement data, work history, and medical information like smoking and urine data. We will apply an electronic data collection system to protect personal data. To investigate total and cause-specific mortality for the period 1980–2011, we aim to determine each subject’s vital status and, if applicable, cause of death. External comparisons (SMRs) to the German population and state populations will be performed. Cox models will be used for internal analyses.
Results Our preliminary estimates of the numbers of participants at the two Bavarian plants are 2,711 and 1,577. At the North Rhine-Westphalian plant we have enrolled 3,700 workers (less than half of the overall workforce). Some current workers refused to be enrolled in the study. 3.7% of 676 and 0.2% of 417 at Bavarian plants and 0.9% of 637 at North Rhine-Westphalian plant. Basic data of these workers will be documented.
Conclusions The data collection process in North Rhine-Westphalia was restricted due to the large number of paper files. Otherwise it would not be feasible to meet the budget and time schedule of the international pooling project. Vital status and cause of death tracing are challenging in Germany. We will try to optimise procedures in cooperation with the responsible institutions.
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