The global burden of disease due to occupational carcinogens

Authors

  • Timothy Driscoll MBBS, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
    2. ELMATOM Pty Ltd., Sydney, Australia
    • School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
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  • Deborah Imel Nelson PhD,

    1. School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, 73019
    2. Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
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  • Kyle Steenland PhD,

    1. Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
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  • James Leigh MD, PhD,

    1. Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia
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  • Marisol Concha-Barrientos MD, DrPH,

    1. Gerencia de Salud, Asociación Chilena de Seguridad, Santiago, Chile
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  • Marilyn Fingerhut PhD,

    1. Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
    2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Washington, DC
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  • Annette Prüss-Üstün PhD

    1. Occupational and Environmental Health Unit, Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
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  • Work performed at WHO, Geneva and ELMATOM Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia.

  • The views in this paper are those of the authors and do not reflect the position of the World Health Organization.

Abstract

Background

The worldwide mortality and morbidity from lung cancer, leukemia, and malignant mesothelioma arising from occupational exposures to carcinogens are described. Cases reported in the year 2000 that resulted from relevant past and current exposures are assessed.

Methods

The proportions of workers exposed to the carcinogens of interest, and their levels of exposure, were estimated using workforce data and the CAREX (CARcinogen EXposure) database. These were combined with relative risk measures (for lung cancer and leukemia) or absolute risk measures (for malignant mesothelioma) to develop estimates of deaths, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and attributable fraction (for lung cancer and leukemia).

Results

There were an estimated 152,000 deaths (lung cancer: 102,000; leukemia: 7,000; and malignant mesothelioma: 43,000) and nearly 1.6 million DALYS (lung cancer: 969,000; leukemia: 101,000; and malignant mesothelioma: 564,000) due to exposure to occupational carcinogens.

Conclusions

Occupational carcinogens are an important cause of death and disability worldwide. Am. J. Ind. Med. 48:419–431, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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