Mortality in Vermont granite workers and its association with silica exposure.

Vacek PM, Verma DK, Graham WG, Callas PW, Gibbs GW.
Occup Environ Med. 2011 May;68(5):312-8. Epub 2010 Sep 19.

OBJECTIVES: To assess mortality in Vermont granite workers and examine relationships between silica exposure and mortality from lung cancer, kidney cancer, non-malignant kidney disease, silicosis and other non-malignant respiratory disease. Methods Workers employed between 1947 and 1998 were identified. Exposures were estimated using a job-exposure matrix. Mortality was assessed through 2004 and standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) were computed. Associations between mortality and exposure to silica were assessed by nested case-control analyses using conditional logistic regression. Results 7052 workers had sufficient data for statistical analysis. SMRs were significantly elevated for lung cancer (SMR 1.37, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.52), silicosis (SMR 59.13, 95% CI 44.55 to 76.97), tuberculosis (SMR 21.74, 95% CI 18.37 to 25.56) and other non-malignant respiratory disease (SMR 1.74, 95% CI 1.50 to 2.02) but not for kidney cancer or non-malignant kidney disease. In nested case-control analyses, significant associations with cumulative exposure to respirable free silica were observed for silicosis (OR 1.13, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.21 for each 1 mg/m(3)-year increase in cumulative exposure) and other non-malignant respiratory disease (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.16) but not for lung cancer (OR 0.99, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.03), kidney cancer (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.09) or non-malignant kidney disease (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.08). Conclusions Exposure to crystalline silica in Vermont granite workers was associated with increased mortality from silicosis and other non-malignant respiratory disease, but there was no evidence that increased lung cancer mortality in the cohort was due to exposure. Mortality from malignant and non-malignant kidney disease was not significantly increased or associated with exposure.

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