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Mortality Rates Among Workers Exposed to Dioxins in the Manufacture of Pentachlorophenol

Collins, James J. PhD*; Bodner, Kenneth MS; Aylward, Lesa L. MS; Wilken, Michael MS; Swaen, Gerard PhD; Budinsky, Robert PhD; Rowlands, Craig PhD; Bodnar, Catherine M. MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 10 - p 1212-1219
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181badd4e
Original Articles

Objective: We sought to determine if workers exposed to dioxins in pentachlorophenol (PCP) manufacturing were at increased risk of death from specific causes.

Methods: We examined death rates among 773 workers exposed to chlorinated dioxins during PCP manufacturing from 1937 to 1980 using serum dioxin evaluations to estimate exposures to five dioxins.

Results: Deaths from all causes combined, all cancers combined, lung cancer, diabetes, and ischemic heart disease were near expected levels. There were eight deaths from non-Hodgkin lymphoma (standardized mortality ratios = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.0 to 4.8). We observed no trend of increasing risk for any cause of death with increasing dioxin exposure. However, the highest rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma were found in the highest exposure group (standardized mortality ratios = 4.5, 95% CI = 1.2 to 11.5).

Conclusions: Other than possibly an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we find no other cause of death related to the mixture of the dioxin contaminants found in PCP.

From The Dow Chemical Company (Dr Collins, Mr Bodner, Mr Wilken, Dr Swaen, Dr Budinsky, Dr Rowlands, Dr Bodnar) Midland, Mich; and Summit Toxicology (Ms Aylward), Falls Church, Va.

This study conduct was pursuant to review and oversight by a Human subjects Review Board in Midland, Michigan.

Address correspondence to: James J. Collins, The Dow Chemical Company, Epidemiology Department, 1803 Building, Midland, Michigan 48674; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine