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0117 Nonmalignant Disease Mortality among Styrene, Fibreglass, and Wood Dust Exposed Workers in the Reinforced Plastic Boatbuilding Industry
  1. Alysha Meyers,
  2. Steve Bertke,
  3. Avima Ruder
  1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA


Objectives To further evaluate the association of styrene, fibreglass, and wood dust exposure with non-malignant diseases, we extended follow-up through 2008 for 5203 workers exposed to styrene, fibreglass, and wood dust between 1959 and 1978 at two boat building plants.

Method We used a person-years analysis program, LTAS.NET to compute standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) using Washington State and U.S. rates, standardised rate ratios (SRRs), and 95% confidence intervals. SMRs were stratified by exposure category (low or high) and duration of employment category (≤ 1 year, 1+ years).

Results Overall, 1206 nonmalignant deaths occurred (WA SMR 1.14, CI 1.08–1.21), with excess mortality for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) overall (n = 112, WA SMR 1.61, CI 1.32–1.93), and among 2063 workers highly exposed to styrene and fibreglass (n = 39, WA SMR 2.37, CI 1.69–3.25). Results were similar using U.S. mortality rates. Workers employed for less than one year had statistically significant increased mortality from several lifestyle-related outcomes (alcoholism, ischaemic heart disease, cirrhosis, accidental poisoning and homicide).

Conclusions The excess COPD mortality in this cohort is difficult to interpret. Recent reports associate styrene/fibreglass reinforced plastic manufacturing with another respiratory disease - bronchiolitis obliterans. Based on a review of COPD death certificates, bronchiolitis obliterans does not appear to be a contributing factor for excess COPD mortality. The COPD excess in this study points to a need for an in-depth investigation of respiratory disease and occupational styrene exposure. Short term worker results are consistent with other occupational cohort studies.

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