POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS (PAHs): A POSSIBLE CAUSE OF LUNG CANCER MORTALITY AMONG NICKEL/COPPER SMELTER AND REFINERY WORKERS
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A retrospective industrial hygiene investigation was undertaken to explain the cause of a statistically significant excess lung cancer mortality observed in a subset of a large cohort of nickel workers involved in mining, smelting, and refining of nickel and copper in Ontario. The focus of this paper is to demonstrate how an industrial hygiene follow-up assessment of an epidemiologic finding can help to identify a likely cause. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) alone or in association with particulate and gaseous contaminants (e.g., SO2) were likely the causative agents of the excess lung cancer observed among the lead welders, cranemen, and arc furnace workers of the copper refinery.
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