Objectives To use job-exposure matrices (JEM), as a tool to describe trends of occupational exposure to carcinogenic chemicals present in the French workplace.
Method MATGÉNÉ JEMs assess for each job and a given period in France, several exposure indices such as probability, intensity and frequency of exposure. Linking these matrices with job information data coming from French population allow to estimate the prevalence of workers exposed to several chemicals for a given year. To study the evolution of exposure to carcinogens, prevalence of exposure in France for the years 1999 and 2007 were estimated from the population census of 1999 and from a representative sample of the population in 2007.
Results French available JEMs assess the exposure of workers since the 1950s for various occupational carcinogens: crystalline silica, benzene, trichlorethylene, perchlorethylene, leather dust, asbestos and refractory ceramic fibres (RCF). A significant decrease in the prevalence of exposure between 1999 and 2007 was observed among men for silica with 7.4% and 5.6% respectively, asbestos with 6.3% and 1.1% and RCF with 0.5% and 0.3%. For women, a significant decrease was also noticed for exposure to asbestos and leather dust. For solvents, the prevalence of exposure remained stable in both men and women.
Conclusions The proportion of workers exposed to carcinogens, particularly to asbestos, has decreased in France since 1999. However a substantial number of workers are still exposed. As complete occupational histories are available in the 2007 population sample, the JEMs will also be used to estimate lifetime exposure prevalence and the associated disease burden.