Lung Cancer Mortality among Uranium Gaseous Diffusion Plant Workers: A Cohort Study 1952–2004

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Background: 9%–15% of all lung cancers are attributable to occupational exposures. Reports are disparate regarding elevated lung cancer mortality risk among workers employed at uranium gaseous diffusion plants.

Objective: To investigate whether external radiation exposure is associated with lung cancer mortality risk among uranium gaseous diffusion workers.

Methods: A cohort of 6820 nuclear industry workers employed from 1952 to 2003 at the Paducah uranium gaseous diffusion plant (PGDP) was assembled. A job-specific exposure matrix (JEM) was used to determine likely toxic metal exposure categories. In addition, radiation film badge dosimeters were used to monitor cumulative external ionizing radiation exposure. International Classification for Disease (ICD) codes 9 and 10 were used to identify 147 lung cancer deaths. Logistic and proportional hazards regression were used to estimate lung cancer mortality risk.

Results: Lung cancer mortality risk was elevated among workers who experienced external radiation >3.5 mrem and employment duration >12 years.

Conclusion: Employees of uranium gaseous diffusion plants carry a higher risk of lung cancer mortality; the mortality is associated with increased radiation exposure and duration of employment.


Lung neoplasms; Mortality; Radiation; Occupational exposure; Occupational diseases; Uranium compounds

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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