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Am J Public Health. 1996 Sep;86(9):1281-8.

Neurodegenerative diseases: occupational occurrence and potential risk factors, 1982 through 1991.

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  • 1Education and Information Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA.



To identify potential occupational risk factors, this study examined the occupational occurrence of various neurodegenerative diseases.


Death certificates from 27 states in the National Occupational Mortality Surveillance System were evaluated for 1982 to 1991. Proportionate mortality ratios were calculated by occupation for presenile dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and motor neuron disease.


Excess mortality was observed for all four categories in the following occupational categories: teachers; medical personnel; machinists and machine operators; scientists; writers/designers/entertainers; and support and clerical workers. Clusters of three neurodegenerative diseases were also found in occupations involving pesticides, solvents, and electromagnetic fields and in legal, library, social, and religious work. Early death from motor neuron disease was found for firefighters, janitors, military personnel, teachers, excavation machine operators, and veterinarians, among others.


Neurodegenerative disease occurs more frequently in some occupations than in others, and this distribution, which may indicate occupational risk factors, should be further investigated.

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