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Risk of lung cancer associated with six types of chlorinated solvents: results from two case–control studies in Montreal, Canada
  1. David Vizcaya1,
  2. Krista Yorita Christensen1,
  3. Jérôme Lavoué1,
  4. Jack Siemiatycki1–3
  1. 1University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  2. 2Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  3. 3Guzzo–Cancer Research Society Chair in Environment and Cancer, School of Public Health, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jack Siemiatycki, Environmental Epidemiology and Population Health Research Group, Research Centre of the University of Montreal Hospital Network (CRCHUM), 3875 rue Saint-Urbain, Montréal, Québec, Canada H2W 1V1; j.siemiatycki{at}


Objectives To determine whether exposure to various chlorinated solvents is associated with lung cancer.

Methods Two case–control studies of occupation and lung cancer were conducted in Montreal, and included 2016 cases and 2001 population controls. Occupational exposure to a large number of agents was evaluated using a combination of subject-reported job history and expert assessment. We examined associations between lung cancer among men and six specific chlorinated solvents and two chemical families (chlorinated alkanes and alkenes). ORs were calculated using unconditional multivariate logistic regression.

Results When the two studies were pooled, there were indications of an increased risk of lung cancer associated with occupational exposure to perchloroethylene (ORany exposure 2.5, 95% CI 1.2 to 5.6; ORsubstantial exposure 2.4, 95% CI 0.8 to 7.7) and to carbon tetrachloride (ORany exposure 1.2, 95% CI 0.8 to 2.1; ORsubstantial exposure 2.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 5.7). No other chlorinated solvents showed both statistically significant associations and dose–response relationships. ORs appeared to be higher among non-smokers. When the lung cancer cases were separated by histological type, there was a suggestion of differential effects by tumour type, but statistical imprecision and multiple testing preclude strong inferences in this regard.

Conclusions There were suggestive, albeit inconsistent, indications that exposure to perchloroethylene and carbon tetrachloride may increase the risk of lung cancer. Results for other solvents were compatible with absence of risk.

  • Lung cancer
  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Perchloroethylene

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