An analysis of the mortality of a cohort of 6629 workers employed from 1906 to 1981 in a rubber tyre factory in northern Italy (978 deaths and over 133,000 man-years at risk) showed that the all cause mortality ratio was slightly lower than expected (0.91). Overall cancer mortality was close to expected (275 v 259.4) but there were significant excess rates for two cancer sites: pleura (9 observed v 0.8 expected, which may be due to the use of fibre containing talc) and bladder (16 observed v 8.8 expected). Death rates were not raised for other sites previously associated with employment in the rubber industry, such as cancers of the lung and brain, leukaemias, or lymphomas. The substantially reduced relative risk of pleural cancer among workers first employed after 1940 (RR = 0.05 compared with before 1940) probably reflected improvements in working conditions over more recent periods. For cancer of the bladder, the relative risk was also lower for workers first engaged after 1940. Thus no appreciable risk for any disease was apparent for workers employed over the past four decades. Analysis for each of the 27 job categories showed a substantial excess for cancer of the pleura in the mechanical maintenance workers (4 observed v 0.17 expected); an excess of cancer of the lung (21 v 13.48) was also present in this job category.
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