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Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Jul 15;160(2):163-72.

Lung cancer and internal lung doses among plutonium workers at the Rocky Flats Plant: a case-control study.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.


The authors conducted a nested case-control study of the association between lung cancer mortality and cumulative internal lung doses among a cohort of workers employed at the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado from 1951 to 1989. Cases (n = 180) were individually matched with controls (n = 720) on age, sex, and birth year. Annual doses to the lung from plutonium, americium, and uranium isotopes were calculated for each worker with an internal dosimetry model. Lung cancer risk was elevated among workers with cumulative internal lung doses of more than 400 mSv in several different analytical models. The dose-response relation was not consistent at high doses. Restricting analysis to those employed for 15-25 years produced a statistically significant linear trend with dose (chi-square = 67.2, p < 0.001), suggesting a strong healthy worker survivor effect. The association between age at first internal lung dose and lung cancer mortality was statistically significant (odds ratio = 1.05, 95% confidence interval: 1.01, 1.10). No associations were found between lung cancer mortality and cumulative external penetrating radiation dose or cumulative exposures to asbestos, beryllium, hexavalent chromium, or nickel.

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