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Original article
Job-exposure matrix for historical exposures to rubber dust, rubber fumes and n-Nitrosamines in the British rubber industry
  1. Mira Hidajat1,
  2. Damien Martin McElvenny2,
  3. William Mueller2,
  4. Peter Ritchie2,
  5. John W Cherrie2,3,
  6. Andrew Darnton4,
  7. Raymond M Agius5,
  8. Hans Kromhout6,
  9. Frank de Vocht1
  1. 1 Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 Research Division, Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and –Bioengineering, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
  4. 4 Statistics and Epidemiology Unit, Health and Safety Executive, Bootle, UK
  5. 5 Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Centre for Epidemiology, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  6. 6 Environmental Epidemiology Division, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Frank de Vocht, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK; frank.devocht{at}


Objectives To develop a quantitative historical job-exposure matrix (JEM) for rubber dust, rubber fumes and n-Nitrosamines in the British rubber industry for 1915–2002 to estimate lifetime cumulative exposure (LCE) for a cohort of workers with 49 years follow-up.

Methods Data from the EU-EXASRUB database—rubber dust (n=4157), rubber fumes (n=3803) and n-Nitrosamines (n=10 115) collected between 1977 and 2002—were modelled using linear mixed-effects models. Sample year, stationary/personal measurement, industry sector and measurement source were included as fixed explanatory variables and factory as random intercept. Model estimates and extrapolations were used to construct a JEM covering all departments in both sectors of the rubber manufacturing industries for the years 1915–2002. JEM-estimates were linked to all cohort members to calculate LCE. Sensitivity analyses related to assumptions about extrapolation of time trends were also conducted.

Results Changes in rubber dust exposures ranged from −6.3 %/year (crude materials/mixing) to −1.0 %/year (curing) and −6.5 %/year (crude materials/mixing) to +0.5 %/year (finishing, assembly and miscellaneous) for rubber fumes. Declines in n-Nitrosamines ranged from −17.9 %/year (curing) to −1.3 %/year (crude materials and mixing). Mean LCEs were 61 mg/m3-years (rubber dust), 15.6 mg/ m3-years (rubber fumes), 2483.2 µg/m3-years (n-Nitrosamines sum score), 18.6 µg/m3-years (N-nitrosodimethylamine) and 15.0 µg/m3-years (N-itrosomorpholine).

Conclusions All exposures declined over time. Greatest declines in rubber dust and fumes were found in crude materials and mixing and for n-Nitrosamines in curing/vulcanising and preprocessing. This JEM and estimated LCEs will allow for evaluation of exposure-specific excess cancer risks in the British rubber industry.

  • job-exposure matrix
  • JEM
  • rubber industry
  • industrial cohort study
  • rubber fumes
  • rubber dust
  • nitrosamines
  • occupational exposures

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

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  • Contributors FdV, DMM, JWC and RMA conceived of the study and obtained funding. All authors contributed to the study design. DMM, FdV, PR, WM and AD contributed to the acquisition of data. MH conducted the statistical analyses. All authors contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data. MH and FdV drafted the first version of the manuscript. All authors critically revised the manuscript and approved the final text.

  • Funding This study was funded by Cancer Research UK (C29425/A16521). Additional funding for tracing of the cohort was provided by the UK Health and Safety Executive (PRJ787).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of CRUK or HSE.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The exposure data used in this project were collected within the European Union Framework Programme 5 (QLK4-CT-2001-00160, QLK4-CT-2002-02786). They can be requested from Professor Kromhout (Utrecht University, the Netherlands; 55124612300).

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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