Hexavalent chromium and lung cancer in the chromate industry: A quantitative risk assessment

Robert M. Park, James F. Bena, Leslie T. Stayner, Randall J. Smith, Herman J. Gibb, Peter S.J. Lees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The purpose of this investigation was to estimate excess lifetime risk of lung cancer death resulting from occupational exposure to hexavalent-chromium- containing dusts and mists. The mortality experience in a previously studied cohort of 2,357 chromate chemical production workers with 122 lung cancer deaths was analyzed with Poisson regression methods. Extensive records of air samples evaluated for water-soluble total hexavalent chromium were available for the entire employment history of this cohort. Six different models of exposure-response for hexavalent chromium were evaluated by comparing deviances and inspection of cubic splines. Smoking (pack-years) imputed from cigarette use at hire was included in the model. Lifetime risks of lung cancer death from exposure to hexavalent chromium (assuming up to 45 years of exposure) were estimated using an actuarial calculation that accounts for competing causes of death. A linear relative rate model gave a good and readily interpretable fit to the data. The estimated rate ratio for 1 mg/m3-yr of cumulative exposure to hexavalent chromium (as CrO3), with a lag of five years, was RR = 2.44 (95% CI = 1.54-3.83). The excess lifetime risk of lung cancer death from exposure to hexavalent chromium at the current OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) (0.10 mg/m3) was estimated to be 255 per 1,000 (95% CI: 109-416). This estimate is comparable to previous estimates by U.S. EPA, California EPA, and OSHA using different occupational data. Our analysis predicts that current occupational standards for hexavalent chromium permit a lifetime excess risk of dying of lung cancer that exceeds 1 in 10, which is consistent with previous risk assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1099-1108
Number of pages10
JournalRisk Analysis
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

Keywords

  • Excess lifetime risk
  • Hexavalent chromium exposure-response
  • Race interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)

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