A mortality study was conducted in workers with at least 90 days' exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) between 1946 and 1977. Vital status was established for 98.7% of the 7075 workers studied. In hourly male workers, the mortality from all cancers was significantly below expected (standardized mortality ratio [SMR] = 81; 95% confidence interval [CI], = 68 to 97) and comparable to expected (SMR = 110; 95% CI, 93 to 129) in hourly female workers. No significant elevations in mortality for any site-specific cause were found in the hourly cohort. All-cancer mortality was significantly below expected in salaried males (SMR = 69; 95% CI, 52 to 90) and comparable to expected in salaried females (SMR = 75; 95% CI, 45 to 118). No significant elevations were seen in the most highly exposed workers, nor did SMRs increase with length of cumulative employment and latency. None of the previously reported specific excesses in cancer mortality were seen. This is the largest cohort of male and female workers exposed to PCBs. The lack of any significant elevations in the site-specific cancer mortality of the production workers adds important information about human health effects of PCBs.
From the Institute for Evaluating Health Risks, Washington, DC.
Portions of this study were presented in poster form at the 1997 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology Annual Meeting, September 11-16, 1997.
Address correspondence to: Renate D. Kimbrough, MD, Institute for Evaluating Health Risks, Suite 402, 1629 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.