Objective: We examined the long term health effects of occupational exposure to acrylamide (AMD) among production and polymerization workers.
Methods: An earlier study of 371 AMD workers was expanded to include employees hired since 1979. In this updated study, 696 AMD workers were followed from 1955 through 2001 to ascertain vital status and cause of death. Exposure to AMD was retrospectively assessed based on personal samples from the 1970’s onwards and area samples over the whole study period.
Results: Fewer of the AMD workers died (N=141) compared to an expected number of 172.1 (SMR= 81.9, 95% CI: 69.0-96.6). No cause specific SMR for any of the investigated types of cancer was dose related. We did, however, find more pancreatic cancer deaths than expected (SMR=222.2, 95%CI: 72.1- 518.5). With respect to non-malignant disease, more diabetes deaths were observed than expected (SMR=288.7, 95% CI: 138.4-531.0). The excess persisted in an analysis with an internal reference population from the internal analysis. We conclude that the elevated SMR for diabetes mortality probably is not related to regional influences or differences in coding practices.
Conclusion: This study provides little evidence for a cancer risk from occupational exposure to AMD at production facilities. However, the increased rates of pancreatic cancer in our study and another larger study of AMD production workers indicate that caution is needed to rule out a cancer risk. We believe that the excess of diabetes mortality in our study is most likely not related to AMD exposure because a larger study of AMD workers reported a deficit in this cause of death.
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