OBJECTIVES: To examine the incidence of lymphohaematopoietic malignancy around industrial complexes that include major oil refineries in Great Britain after recent public and scientific concern of possible carcinogenic hazards of emissions from the petrochemical industry. METHODS: Small area study of the incidence of lymphohaematopoietic malignancies, 1974-91, within 7.5 km of all 11 oil refineries (grouped into seven sites) in Great Britain that were operational by the early 1970s and processed more than two million tonnes of crude oil in 1993. RESULTS: Combined analysis of data from all seven sites showed no significant (p < 0.05) increase in risk of these malignancies within 2 km or 7.5 km. Hodgkin's lymphoma, but no other malignancy, showed evidence (p = 0.02) of a decline in risk with distance from refineries, but there was an apparent deficit of cases of multiple myeloma near the refineries (p = 0.04). CONCLUSION: There was no evidence of association between residence near oil refineries and leukaemias, or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A weak positive association was found between risk of Hodgkin's disease and proximity to major petrochemical industry, and a negative association with multiple myeloma, which may be chance findings within the context of multiple statistical testing.
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