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Mortality of Aircraft Maintenance Workers Exposed to Trichloroethylene and Other Hydrocarbons and Chemicals: Extended Follow-Up

Radican, Larry PhD, MPH; Blair, Aaron PhD, MPH; Stewart, Patricia PhD; Wartenberg, Daniel PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 11 - p 1306-1319
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181845f7f
Original Articles

Objective: To extend follow-up of 14,455 workers from 1990 to 2000, and evaluate mortality risk from exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) and other chemicals.

Methods: Multivariable Cox models were used to estimate relative risk (RR) for exposed versus unexposed workers based on previously developed exposure surrogates.

Results: Among TCE-exposed workers, there was no statistically significant increased risk of all-cause mortality (RR = 1.04) or death from all cancers (RR = 1.03). Exposure-response gradients for TCE were relatively flat and did not materially change since 1990. Statistically significant excesses were found for several chemical exposure subgroups and causes and were generally consistent with the previous follow-up.

Conclusions: Patterns of mortality have not changed substantially since 1990. Although positive associations with several cancers were observed, and are consistent with the published literature, interpretation is limited due to the small numbers of events for specific exposures.

From the Global Outcomes Research Department (Dr Radican), Merck and Co, Inc, NJ; Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (Dr Blair, Dr Stewart), National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; and Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine (Dr Wartenberg), University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey—Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, NJ.

Address correspondence to: Larry Radican, Merck and Co, Inc, One Merck Drive, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889; E-mail:

Copyright © 2008 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine