A mortality study of workers employed for at least one year between 1 January 1950 and 31 December 1975 at eight oil refineries in Britain has been carried out. Over 99% of the population were successfully traced to determine their vital status at 31 December 1975. The mortality observed in the study population was compared with that which would be expected from the mortality rates for the all male population of England and Wales, and Scotland, with adjustment for regional variation in mortality for the English and Welsh refineries. The overall mortality observed was considerably lower than that expected on this basis, as was the mortality from heart disease, stroke, bronchitis, and pneumonia. The observed number of deaths from all neoplasms was also very much less than expected, a result almost entirely due to a large deficit of observed deaths from lung cancer. Raised mortality patterns were found in several refineries for cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, intestines, and rectum, although no location was consistently high for all these causes of death. Different year-of-entry cohorts and job groups were also affected. In general, mortality from these causes increased as length of service and interval from starting work increased. There were also significantly more observed deaths than expected from cancer of the nasal cavities and sinus, and melanoma. Further work is required to ascertain whether these are due to an occupational factor and, if so, to identify the physical or chemical nature of the risk.
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