Objectives: To describe the mortality of Paris sewage workers.
Methods: A cohort of all Paris sewage workers since 1970 was established and followed up in mortality until 1999. The causes of death were determined by matching with a national database. The mortality rates were compared to the rates of a local reference population.
Results: A large excess in mortality (standardised mortality ratio (SMR) = 1.25; 530 cases, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.36) and in particular mortality from cancer (SMR = 1.37, 235 cases) was detected which was particularly important in the subgroup of subjects who had left employment because they resigned or were laid off (SMR = 1.77; 50 cases). The excess mortality is to a large extent due to alcohol related diseases (SMR = 1.65, 122 cases) especially malignant (SMR = 1.85, 16 cases) and non-malignant (SMR = 1.68, 38 cases) liver diseases, lung cancer (SMR = 1.47, 68 cases), and infectious diseases (SMR = 1.86, 25 cases). The SMRs for some diseases (all cancers, cancers of the oesophagus and lung, all alcohol related diseases) seem to increase with duration of employment as a sewage worker. Other than lung cancer, smoking related diseases were not in excess.
Conclusion: The increased mortality by both malignant and non-malignant liver diseases is probably due to excessive alcohol consumption, but could be partially the result of occupational exposure to chemical and infectious agents and interactions of these factors. The excess lung cancer is unlikely to be due to an increased smoking prevalence.
- sewage workers
- chronic liver diseases
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Competing interests: none declared.