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Am J Ind Med. 1999 Dec;36(6):630-7.

Mortality patterns among electrical workers employed in the U.S. construction industry, 1982-1987.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, USA. CFR2@CDC.GOV



Studies of electrical workers in the utility and manufacturing industries have reported excess site-specific cancer. No previous studies of electrical workers in the construction industry have been conducted.


Our study evaluated the mortality patterns of 31,068 U.S. members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who primarily worked in the construction industry and died 1982-1987.


Comparison to the U.S. population by using the NIOSH life table showed significantly elevated proportionate mortality for many causes. Excess mortality for leukemia (proportionate mortality ratio (PMR)=115) and brain tumors (PMR=136) is similar to reports of electrical workers with occupational exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the electric utility or manufacturing industry. Excess deaths due to melanoma skin cancer (PMR=123) are consistent with findings of other PCB-exposed workers. A significantly elevated PMR was observed for the diseases caused by asbestos: lung cancer (PMR=117), asbestosis (PMR=247), and malignant mesothelioma (PMR=356) and from fatal injuries, particularly electrocutions (PMR=1180). The findings of statistically significant excess deaths for prostate cancer (PMR=107), musculoskeletal disease (PMR=130), suicide (PMR=113), and disorders of the blood-forming organs (PMR=141) were unexpected.


Results suggest that more detailed investigations of occupational risk factors and evaluation of preventive practices are needed to prevent excess mortality in this hazardous occupation. Am. J. Ind. Med. 36:630-637, 1999. Published 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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