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Cause-specific mortality in Finnish ferrochromium and stainless steel production workers

26 Mar 2016

Background

Although stainless steel has been produced for more than a hundred years, exposure-related mortality data for production workers are limited.

Aims

To describe cause-specific mortality in Finnish ferrochromium and stainless steel workers.

Methods

We studied Finnish stainless steel production chain workers employed between 1967 and 2004, from chromite mining to cold rolling of stainless steel, divided into sub-cohorts by production units with specific exposure patterns. We obtained causes of death for the years 1971–2012 from Statistics Finland. We calculated standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) as ratios of observed and expected numbers of deaths based on population mortality rates of the same region.

Results

Among 8088 workers studied, overall mortality was significantly decreased (SMR 0.77; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.70–0.84), largely due to low mortality from diseases of the circulatory system (SMR 0.71; 95% CI 0.61–0.81). In chromite mine, stainless steel melting shop and metallurgical laboratory workers, the SMR for circulatory disease was below 0.4 (SMR 0.33; 95% CI 0.07–0.95, SMR 0.22; 95% CI 0.05–0.65 and SMR 0.16; 95% CI 0.00–0.90, respectively). Mortality from accidents (SMR 0.84; 95% CI 0.67–1.04) and suicides (SMR 0.72; 95% CI 0.56–0.91) was also lower than in the reference population.

Conclusions

Working in the Finnish ferrochromium and stainless steel industry appears not to be associated with increased mortality.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Occupational Medicine