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Lung cancer in Yorkshire chrome platers, 1972–97


OBJECTIVES To investigate mortality from lung cancer in chrome platers, a group exposed to chromic acid.

METHODS The mortality of a cohort of 1087 chrome platers (920 men, 167 women) from 54 plants situated in the West Riding of Yorkshire, United Kingdom, was investigated for the period 1972–97. All subjects were employed as chrome platers for ⩾3 months and all were alive on 31 May 1972. Mortality data were also available for a cohort of 1163 comparison workers with no known occupational exposure to chrome compounds (989 men, 174 women). Information on duration of chrome work and smoking habits collected for a cross sectional survey carried out in 1969–72 were available for 916 (84.3%) of the chrome platers; smoking habits were available for 1004 (86.3%) comparison workers. Two analytical approaches were used, indirect standardisation and Poisson regression.

RESULTS Based on serial mortality rates for the general population of England and Wales, significantly increased mortality from lung cancer was observed (obs) in male chrome platers (obs 60, expected (exp) 32.5, standardised mortality ratio (SMR) 185, p<0.001) but not in male comparison workers (obs 47, exp 36.9, SMR 127). Positive trends were not shown for duration of employment exposed to chrome, although data on working after 1972 were not available.

CONCLUSIONS Confident interpretation is not possible but occupational exposures to hexavalent chromium may well have been involved in the increased mortality from lung cancer found in this cohort of chrome platers.

  • chromium plating
  • lung cancer

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