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Lung cancer mortality in UK nickel-cadmium battery workers, 1947–2000
  1. T Sorahan1,
  2. N A Esmen2
  1. 1Institute of Occupational Health, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
  2. 2Dept of Occupational & Environmental Health, The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Campus, Health Services Center, PO Box 26901, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73190, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Prof. T Sorahan
 Institute of Occupational Health, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK;


Aims: To investigate mortality from lung cancer in nickel-cadmium battery workers in relation to cumulative exposure to cadmium hydroxide.

Methods: The mortality of a cohort of 926 male workers from a factory engaged in the manufacture of nickel-cadmium batteries in the West Midlands of England was investigated for the period 1947–2000. All subjects were first employed at the plant in the period 1947–75 and employed for a minimum period of 12 months. Work histories were available for the period 1947–86; the factory closed down in 1992. 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 was shown for cancers of the pharynx (observed (Obs) 4, expected (Exp) 0.7, standardised mortality ratio (SMR) 559, p<0.05), non-malignant diseases of the respiratory system (Obs 61, Exp 43.0, SMR 142, p<0.05), and non-malignant diseases of the genitourinary system (Obs 10, Exp 4.1, SMR 243, p<0.05). Non-significantly increased SMRs were shown for lung cancer (Obs 45, Exp 40.7, SMR 111) and cancer of the prostate (Obs 9, Exp 7.5, SMR 116). Estimated cumulative cadmium exposures were not related to risks of lung cancer or risks of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, even when exposure histories were lagged first by 10, then by 20 years.

Conclusions: The study findings do not support the hypotheses that cadmium compounds are human lung carcinogens.

  • cadmium
  • lung cancer
  • cohort study

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