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FORDS - Higher than expected lung cancer rates among car


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workers in America

http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/breifin ... merica.php

An American report analysed by the health team investigating the Swaythling plant found death rates from lung cancer was "higher than expected" among US Ford car workers.

The study was conducted by the Department of Epidermiology and International Health at the University of Alabama and looked at deaths among 198,000 vehicle workers over the 1973-1995 period.

The researchers found that workers' mortality rates were lower than expected in all major cause of death categories except one - cancer.

And the study added: "Mortality rates were higher than expected for lung cancer overall and among employees in transmission/gear manufacturing, casting operations, engine manufacturing and vehicle assembly; for stomach cancer in engine manufacturing; and for prostrate cancer in casting operations."

The report, published in August 2003, goes on: "Excesses of lung cancer in transmission, vehicle assembly, and casting operations and of stomach cancer in engine manufacturing have been observed in other investigations."

However, the report's authors were also quick to stress that additional research was needed before conclusions were made.

They said: "Further information on employees' occupational exposures and personal attributes is required to clarify the interpretation of these results."

And, in attempting to explain the higher than expected lung cancer deaths, the authors suggested: "This excess may be the result of occupational exposure, to heavier smoking by workers compared with the US population at large, or to a combination."

The researchers studied Ford Motor Company employees who were members of the UAW union - The International Union of United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

Their main aim was to determine whether the overall group - or sub-groups within it - had unusual mortality rates when compared with the general population of the United States.

Some of the employees involved had contributed to an earlier survey of people working at Ford in 1973 but two new groups were added to make an expanded study. The first new group consisted of staff who had hire dates between January 1, 1973 and the end of December 1990 and the second batch included those individuals who had worked at least five years as of December 31, 1995.

The resulting report contains many interesting details beyond its main, headline findings.

For example, of the 198,000 individuals scrutinised, 40,000 had died and 95 per cent of these were from the group active at Ford in 1973.

Within vehicle assembly, the highest mortality ratios were also found for workers in painting, plating and rust-proofing jobs, a result, say the researchers, "weakly supported" by other investigations.

In addition, the researchers note that following 1975 reports that lead chromate should be regarded as a human carcinogen, the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association of the United States initiated a study of spray painters in ten assembly plants of five participating companies. This study found positive associations with lung cancer.

The University of Alabama report was published in the Journal Of Occupational And Environmental Medicine where an accompanying editorial written by Professor Franklin Mirer states: "We believe this report supports the conclusion that workers in foundry, machining and vehicle assembly facilities likely have suffered work-related increased cancer." (sic) Prof Mirer, of Hunter College at The City University of New York, raises some concerns with the report's statistical approach but concludes the analysis "strongly supports the need for further, more detailed studies of exposure response within this industry."

The Swaythling researchers considered the University of Alabama findings as part of its own investigation into oesophageal cancer. The University survey found nothing unusual regarding this type of cancer and mortality rates.

PRODUCTION LINE: A Ford Transit under construction at the Swaythling factory.

9:34am Monday 12th February 2007

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