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Keywords:

  • environmental controls;
  • mortality study;
  • SMRs;
  • surrogates for exposure;
  • latency;
  • textile fabrication;
  • glyceral polyglycidyl ether

Abstract

We studied mortality among 8,878 employees who worked at any time from 1965 to 1988 at a synthetic fibers plant in North Carolina that used a finishing agent containing glyceroi polyglycidyl ether. Some glycidyl ethers are mutagenic and tumorigenic in laboratory animals. The main route of exposure to workers was inhalation of the spray mist, although there was also skin contact. We identified 553 deaths in the cohort and the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) from all causes of death combined was 0.80. For most causes of death, mortality rates in the cohort were similar to mortality rates in the U.S. population. Among categories with at least five observed deaths, the largest effect estimate was for cancer of the central nervous system (SMR = 1.77), and the SMR for lung cancer was 0.94. The cancer categories of central nervous system (brain) and ‘other’ lymphopoietic cancers (lymphoma and myeloma) showed weak associations with duration of employment. In case-control analyses in which we utilized work history data to compute effect estimates by duration of exposure, we found no increased risk of lung cancer or brain cancer among employees with more than 5 years of exposure. Effect estimates for lymphoma and myeloma tended to increase with duration of exposure, although there were only seven deaths in this category and the effect estimates were very imprecise. To date, this study has identified no clear carcinogenic effect of glycerol polyglycidyl ether, but plausible induction periods have not yet elapsed. The cohort should continue to be monitored to obtain more precise estimates after moderate or long induction times. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.