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An epidemiological study of workers potentially exposed to ethylene oxide.
  1. O Wong,
  2. L S Trent
  1. Applied Health Sciences Inc, San Mateo, California 94401.


    This epidemiological study was of 18,728 employees at 14 United States facilities producing sterilised medical supplies and spices, who were potentially exposed to ethylene oxide (EO) for at least 90 days. The mortality of the cohort was studied to the end of 1988. A total of 1353 deaths was identified. The cohort had a significantly lower mortality than the general population from all causes, all cancers, and non-malignant diseases. In the entire cohort, mortality was not significantly increased from any of the cancer sites examined. In particular, no significant increase in mortality was found in the cancer sites of interest based on previous studies--namely, stomach, leukaemia (including major specific cell types), pancreas, and brain. The lack of an increased mortality for these cancer sites was further strengthened by the lack of a dose-response relation with duration of employment and latency. Among the men, a statistically significant increase in mortality from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was found. There was no indication for a dose-response relation for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and no specific job categories seemed to be responsible for the increase. Among the women, a deficit of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was found, which was not consistent with the finding in the men. Therefore, the increase among the men did not seem to be related to exposure to EO.

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