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Follow-up study of chrysotile textile workers: cohort mortality and exposure-response
  1. Misty J Hein1,
  2. Leslie T Stayner2,3,
  3. Everett Lehman1,
  4. John M Dement4
  1. 1Industrywide Studies Branch, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  2. 2Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Risk Evaluation Branch, Education and Information Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  4. 4Department of Community and Family Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 MsM J Hein
 Industrywide Studies Branch, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-13, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA; MHein{at}


Objectives: This report provides an update of the mortality experience of a cohort of South Carolina asbestos textile workers.

Methods: A cohort of 3072 workers exposed to chrysotile in a South Carolina asbestos textile plant (1916–77) was followed up for mortality through 2001. Standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were computed using US and South Carolina mortality rates. A job exposure matrix provided calendar time dependent estimates of chrysotile exposure concentrations. Poisson regression models were fitted for lung cancer and asbestosis. Covariates considered included sex, race, age, calendar time, birth cohort and time since first exposure. Cumulative exposure lags of 5 and 10 years were considered by disregarding exposure in the most recent 5 and 10 years, respectively.

Results: A majority of the cohort was deceased (64%) and 702 of the 1961 deaths occurred since the previous update. Mortality was elevated based on US referent rates for a priori causes of interest including all causes combined (SMR 1.33, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.39); all cancers (SMR 1.27, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.39); oesophageal cancer (SMR 1.87, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.99); lung cancer (SMR 1.95, 95% CI 1.68 to 2.24); ischaemic heart disease (SMR 1.20, 95% CI 1.10 to 1.32); and pneumoconiosis and other respiratory diseases (SMR 4.81, 95% CI 3.84 to 5.94). Mortality remained elevated for these causes when South Carolina referent rates were used. Three cases of mesothelioma were observed among cohort members. Exposure-response modelling for lung cancer, using a linear relative risk model, produced a slope coefficient of 0.0198 (fibre-years/ml) (standard error 0.00496), when cumulative exposure was lagged 10 years. Poisson regression modelling confirmed significant positive relations between estimated chrysotile exposure and lung cancer and asbestosis mortality observed in previous updates of this cohort.

Conclusions: This study confirms the findings from previous investigations of excess mortality from lung cancer and asbestosis and a strong exposure-response relation between estimated exposure to chrysotile and mortality from lung cancer and asbestosis.

  • JEM, job exposure matrix
  • NDI, National Death Index
  • SMR, standardised mortality ratio
  • TSFE, time since first exposure

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  • Published Online First 20 April 2007

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.