Occupational exposure to asbestos and mortality among asbestos removal workers: a Poisson regression analysis

British Journal of Cancer. 2008 Sep 2;99(5):822-9. Epub 2008 Aug 19. [Link]

Frost G, Harding AH, Darnton A, McElvenny D, Morgan D.

Health & Safety Laboratory, Harpur Hill, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9JN, UK. Gillian.Frost@hsl.gov.uk


The asbestos industry has shifted from manufacture to stripping/removal work. The aim of this study was to investigate early indications of mortality among removal workers. The study population consisted of 31 302 stripping/removal workers in the Great Britain Asbestos Survey, followed up to December 2005. Relative risks (RR) for causes of death with elevated standardised mortality ratios (SMR) and sufficient deaths were obtained from Poisson regression. Risk factors considered included dust suppression technique, type of respirator used, hours spent stripping, smoking status and exposure length. Deaths were elevated for all causes (SMR 123, 95% CI 119-127, n=985), all cancers including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and circulatory disease. There were no significant differences between suppression techniques and respirator types. Spending more than 40 h per week stripping rather than less than 10, increased mortality risk from all causes (RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2-1.7), circulatory disease and ischaemic heart disease. Elevated mesothelioma risks were observed for those first exposed at young ages or exposed for more than 30 years. This study is a first step in assessing long-term mortality of asbestos removal workers in relation to working practices and asbestos exposure. Further follow-up will allow the impact of recent regulations to be assessed.

Keywords: asbestos, mortality, Great Britain, occupational exposure, asbestos removal