Cancer mortality associated with the high-temperature oxidation of nickel subsulfide.
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An historical prospective mortality study of INCO's Ontario work-force has been conducted. A cohort of approximately 54 000 men, employed in all aspects of the extraction and refining of copper and nickel from the Sudbury ore deposit, have been followed for mortality between 1950 and 1976. A total of 5 283 deaths were identified by computerized record-linkage to the Canadian Mortality Data Base of death certificates. The analysis focuses on mortality from cancer of the nasal sinuses, larynx, lung, and kidney. Little evidence was found for increased mortality from laryngeal or kidney cancer, but lung and nasal cancer deaths were clearly elevated in men exposed to the two Sudbury area sinter plants and at Port Colborne in the leaching, calcining, and sintering department. The standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for lung cancer increases linearly with increasing duration of exposure and there is no evidence of a threshold. The nasal cancer mortality rate also rises linearly with duration of exposure. While lung cancer has a greater excess in the Sudbury sinter plant than at Port Colborne, the reverse is true for mortality from nasal cancer, which is ten times more frequent at Port Colborne than at Sudbury.