Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Mortality from non-malignant respiratory disease in the fibreglass manufacturing industry
  1. L Chiazze1,
  2. D K Watkins1,
  3. C Fryar1,
  4. W Fayerweather2,
  5. J Kozono1,
  6. V Biggs1
  1. 1Division of Occupational Health Studies, Department of Family Medicine, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20007, USA
  2. 2Owens Corning, One Owens Corning Parkway, Toledo, Ohio 43659, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr L Chiazze Jr, Department of Family Medicine, 410 Kober Cogan Hall, 3750 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA;


Objectives: To investigate the question of whether there is an association between workplace exposures and sociodemographic factors and mortality from non-malignant respiratory disease excluding influenza and pneumonia (NMRDxIP) among workers in a fibreglass wool manufacturing facility.

Methods: A case-control study with cases and controls derived from deaths recorded from the Kansas City plant in the Owens Corning mortality surveillance system. The cases are defined as decedents with NMRDxIP as the underlying cause of death. Matched, unadjusted odds ratios (ORs) were used to assess any association between NMRDxIP and cumulative exposure history and sociodemographic factors individually. Matched, adjusted ORs were obtained by conditional logistic regression to estimate the effect of any one variable while controlling for the effect of all the others.

Results: Results of the unadjusted analysis, considering variables one at a time, yielded no significant associations between NMRDxIP and any of the exposure or sociodemographic variables. The smoking OR was substantially increased (OR 5.09; 95%CI 0.65 to undeterimed). Also, there were no significant variables in a conditional logistic regression analysis in which all variables were simultaneously adjusted. ORs for respirable glass fibres were below unity at all concentrations of exposure in the adjusted analysis. For respirable silica there was no consistent relation across all exposure levels. The ORs increased through the first three exposure concentrations but decreased for the highest exposure. However, ORs although not significant, are greater than unity for all respirable concentrations of silica exposure.

Conclusions: The findings for Kansas City show no association between respirable glass fibres and NMRDxIP. The adjusted ORs for all exposures to respirable fibres were less than unity. On the other hand, the ORs for silica exposures were all above unity although there was no clear dose-response relation and none of the ORs were significant. Exposures for all substances considered were very low. Further, given the number of cases and controls, the statistical power to detect relatively small increases in risk, if any increase truly exited, was relatively low. The ORs for exposures to silica were all above unity although there was no clear dose-response relation and none of the ORs were significant. These raised ORs for silica suggest that continued surveillance would be prudent.

  • fibreglass manufacturing
  • non-malignant respiratory disease
  • respirable glass fibre exposure
  • silica exposure
  • NMRDxIP, non-malignant respiratory disease excluding influenza and pneumonia
  • PMR, proportionate mortality ratio
  • ICD-9, international classification of diseases, 9th revision

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.