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Mortality Patterns and Trends Among 127,266 U.S.-Based Men in a Petroleum Company: Update 1979–2000

Huebner, Wendy W. PhD; Wojcik, Nancy C. MS; Jorgensen, Gail; Marcella, Susan P. MBA; Nicolich, Mark J. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 11 - p 1333-1348
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181be6c18
Original Articles

Objective: To assess patterns and trends in mortality among men employed in U.S. operating segments of a petroleum company.

Methods: We defined a cohort of 127,266 men with at least 1 day of employment during the period of 1979 through 2000. Computerized human resources databases were the basis of the cohort definition as well as the source of demographic and most work history information. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for 94 causes of death, including analyses by operating segment and job type.

Results: Most SMR results are below unity. The main exception is mesothelioma (SMR = 1.49; 95% CI = 1.15 to 1.90), which has elevations three times greater than expectation among some groups of men working in manufacturing sites who were hired before 1960. SMRs for cancers of the blood and blood-forming organs are generally close to unity, whereas men in the chemicals segment have 17 deaths due to acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (SMR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.06 to 2.90), with no temporal or job type patterns. Men in the downstream segment have an elevation of aplastic anemia (SMR = 2.19; 95% CI = 0.95 to 4.32), based on eight deaths. There are eight deaths from malignant melanoma among downstream drivers (SMR = 2.46; 95% CI = 1.06 to 4.84), and motor vehicle accident rates are slightly elevated among some groups of younger and shorter-term operators.

Conclusions: This comprehensive study indicates an overall favorable mortality profile for this workforce. For a few elevations, the study helps guide decisions about future surveillance, focused studies, and other follow-up actions.

From the ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc. (Dr Huebner, Ms Wojcik, Ms Marcella), Annandale, NJ; Palisades Research Inc. (Ms Jorgensen), Watchung, NJ; and Cogimet (Dr Nicolich), Lambertville, NJ.

This study was supported by Exxon Mobil Corporation.

Address correspondence to: Wendy W. Huebner, ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc., 1545 Route 22 East, Annandale, NJ 08801; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine