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Mortality from non-malignant diseases in a cohort of female pulp and paper workers in Norway
  1. H Langseth,
  2. K Kjærheim
  1. Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-based Cancer Research, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 Ms H Langseth
 Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-based Cancer Research, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway; hilde.langseth{at}


Objectives: The objective of the present study was to investigate the risk of death from non-malignant diseases in female pulp and paper workers in Norway.

Methods: A total of 3143 women first employed between 1920–93 were included in the study cohort. Information about each cohort member was obtained from personnel record files in the mills in order to identify employment periods and job categories. Data on cause and date of death were added by linkage to the Cause of Death Register using unique personal identification numbers. The follow up period was 1951–2000. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated using the national female mortality rates as reference. Poisson regression analysis was used to examine internal relations between the duration of employment in paper departments and the risk of death from selected causes. Relative risks (RRs) and 95% CIs were calculated.

Results: The study showed a significantly increased risk for total non-malignant mortality (SMR = 1.14, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.24), mainly due to increased mortality from ischaemic heart disease (SMR = 1.22, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.43) and cerebrovascular diseases (SMR = 1.16, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.42). Analysis by department showed the highest risk of death in paper department workers with short term employment. Internal analyses showed a 5% and 9% increase in risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease and respiratory diseases, respectively, among paper department workers exposed to paper dust. The risk decreased with increasing duration of employment.

Conclusion: The increased risk of ischaemic heart diseases and respiratory diseases seen among employees of paper departments may be related to exposure to paper dust.

  • COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • IARC, International Agency for Research on Cancer
  • ICD, International Classification of Diseases
  • Obs, observed number of deaths
  • PAPDEM, pulp and paper department exposure matrix
  • SMR, standardised mortality ratio
  • mortality
  • women
  • paper dust
  • pulp and paper workers

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  • Published Online First 6 June 2006

  • Competing interests: none.

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