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Health effects of gasoline exposure. II. Mortality patterns of distribution workers in the United States.

  • O Wong
  • F Harris
  • T J Smith
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1993
  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Medicine


In this study, the cohort consisted of 18,135 distribution employees with potential exposure to gasoline for at least one year at land-based terminals (n = 9,026) or on marine vessels (n = 9,109) between 1946 and 1985. The primary objective of the study was to determine the relationship, if any, between exposure to gasoline and mortality from kidney cancer or leukemia. In addition, other causes of death of secondary interest included multiple myeloma and heart diseases. The mortality of the cohort was observed through June 30, 1989. The results of this study indicated that there was no increased mortality from either kidney cancer or leukemia among marketing and marine distribution employees who were exposed to gasoline in the petroleum industry when compared to the general population. Among the land-based terminal employees, the kidney cancer standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was 65.4 (12 deaths) and leukemia SMR was 89.1 (27 deaths). For the marine cohort, the SMRs were 83.7 for kidney cancer (12 deaths) and 70.0 for leukemia (16 deaths), respectively. More importantly, based on internal comparisons, there was no association between mortality from kidney cancer or leukemia and various indices of gasoline exposure. In particular, neither duration of employment, duration of exposure, age at first exposure, year of first of exposure, job category, cumulative exposure, frequency of peak exposures, nor average intensity of exposure had any effect on kidney cancer or leukemia mortality. For acute myeloid leukemia, a nonsignificant mortality increase was found in land-based terminal employees (SMR = 150.5, 13 deaths), but no trend was detected when the data were analyzed by various gasoline exposure indices. This nonsignificant excess was limited to land-based terminal employees hired before 1948. On the other hand, a deficit of mortality from acute myeloid leukemia was observed among marine employees (SMR = 74.2, 5 deaths). For the two cohorts combined, SMR for acute myeloid leukemia was 117.1 based on 18 deaths. We did not find any relationship in our study between gasoline exposure and mortality from multiple myeloma or heart diseases. In general, we did not find any significantly increased mortality, either overall or from specific causes, associated with gasoline exposure in this study of marketing and marine distribution employees.

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