Cause-Specific Mortality

Among Employees of a Texas-Based Chemical Manufacturing Facility, 1940 Through 1996

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Abstract of Journal Article -- April 2003  

By Carol J. Burns, PhD; Michael L. Carson, DO;  and Janice B. Cartmill, RN  

We identified and followed 27,795 Texas-based employees of The Dow Chemical Company from 1940 through 1996. Overall, the study population experienced favorable mortality patterns when compared with external populations. We observed lower death rates for several major causes of death, including heart disease and many cancers, which may be indicative of the "healthy worker effect" and the absence of major health hazards from these manufacturing facilities. Previous studies of the chemical company found higher-than-expected rates of lung, kidney, and brain cancer. More lung cancer deaths than expected continue to occur when the plant population is compared with the US and Texas populations but not with the local 5-county region. The numbers of brain and kidney cancers were also greater than expected, but the risk is attenuating. These findings, taken together with previously reported studies that examined these lung, kidney, and brain cancers relative to exposures to specific hazardous agents, do not suggest an occupational etiology.

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