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Scand J Work Environ Health. 1991 Feb;17(1):20-4.

Mortality of mastic asphalt workers.

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Institute of Community Health, University of Odense, Denmark.


This study was conducted to investigate the adverse health effects of exposure to bitumen fumes. A cohort of 679 mastic asphalt workers was followed from 1959 to 10 June 1986, during this period 169 deaths occurred. The overall standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was 163 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 141-190), the SMR was 225 (95% CI 172-288) for cancer and 223 (95% CI 130-358) for external causes. Among persons aged 40 to 89 years, significant increases were seen for lung cancer (SMR 290, 95% CI 188-429), nonpulmonary cancer (SMR 200, 95% CI 141-276), and liver cirrhosis (SMR 467, 95% CI 188-962). Bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma also occurred in excess (SMR 207, 95% CI 95-393). In conclusion, the inhalation of bitumen fumes may have contributed to the elevated mortality from cancer and respiratory diseases among mastic asphalt workers.

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