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Retrospective Cohort Mortality Study of Workers Engaged in Motion Picture Film Processing

Fryzek, Jon P. PhD; Chadda, Bandana K. MPH; Cohen, Sarah S. MS; Marano, Donald PE, CIH; White, Kenneth MSPH, CIH; Steinwandel, Mark BBA; McLaughlin, Joseph K. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 3 - p 278-286
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000155712.22617.42
Original Articles

Objective: To assess potential health risks associated with work in a large motion picture film-processing facility.

Methods: A retrospective cohort mortality study was conducted during 1960–2000 among 2646 film workers. Job family categories, created from detailed employee work history information, were used to evaluate chemical exposure patterns.

Results: Overall mortality was as expected (standardized mortality ratio [SMR] = 1.1; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.0–1.2). Statistically significant associations were found for suicides (SMR = 2.0; 95% CI = 1.2–3.0) among the hourly workers and AIDS (SMR = 5.3; 95% CI = 1.7–12.3) among the administrative workers. Film developers had increases of respiratory cancer (SMR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.1–3.0) and suicides (SMR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.0–4.7), whereas film assemblers had an increase in suicides (SMR = 2.4; 95% CI = 1.2–4.4) only.

Conclusions: Excess deaths resulting from suicides and AIDS among the workforce suggest that nonoccupational influences may be involved in the mortality of this cohort and warrant further investigations.

From the International Epidemiology Institute (Dr Fryzek, Dr Chadda, Ms Cohen, Mr Steinwandel, Dr McLaughlin), Rockville, Maryland; the Department of Medicine and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (Dr Fryzek, Dr McLaughlin), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee; and IHI Environmental (Mr Marano, Mr White), Salt Lake City, Utah.

An unrestriced grant funding this research was provided by Deluxe Laboratories.

Address correspondence to: Jon P. Fryzek, PhD, International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Blvd., Suite 550, Rockville MD, 20850; E-mail:

Copyright © 2005 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine