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J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Dec;41(12):1154-69.

Mortality study of two overlapping cohorts of photographic film base manufacturing employees exposed to methylene chloride.

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Epidemiology Section, Corporate Health, Safety, and Environment, Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, N.Y., USA.


The mortality experience of two overlapping cohorts of employees engaged in the manufacture of photographic film support was evaluated to assess the potential chronic health effects of methylene chloride exposure. In the first analysis, we examined causes of death among 1311 men initially employed between 1946 (when the solvent was first used) and 1970; in the second, we updated mortality in a 1964 to 1970 employed cohort of 1013 men. Follow-up was through 1994. The mean exposure among members of the 1946 to 1970 cohort was 39 ppm (8-hour time-weighted average) for 17 years, and the median length of follow-up from first exposure was 34 years. Members of the 1964 to 1970 cohort received an average exposure of 26 ppm for 24 years; median time from first exposure was 35 years. Compared with general population vital statistics, mortality in both cohorts was below expectation for all causes of death, ischemic heart disease, and cancer, including such sites as the lung and liver, which were target organs identified in animal toxicology studies. No statistically significant increases were observed for any cause of death. The combined results of this study and three others in the photographic film and textile fibers industries (approximately 7300 subjects) show that long-term exposure to methylene chloride does not increase the risk of death from any cause including specific diagnoses that have been associated with this widely used solvent.

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