Cancer incidence among workers occupationally exposed to dinitrotoluene in the copper mining industry
Purpose Epidemiological and toxicological studies point to a potential carcinogenic effect of dinitrotoluene (DNT), particularly with respect to renal and urothelial cancer.
Methods The cohort comprised all men born between 1920 and 1974 (n = 16,441) who were gainfully employed between 1953 and 1990 in one of two underground copper mines in Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, former German Democratic Republic, and who were followed up for cancer incidence, 1961–2005. Incident cancer cases were identified by record linkage with the Common Cancer Registry of the New Laender. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) were calculated with the general population of Saxony-Anhalt as the reference.
Results Standardized incidence ratios for all cancers were not significantly elevated in the cohort (SIR = 1.04; 95 % confidence intervals (CI) 0.96–1.14). We found an increase in lung cancer (SIR = 1.29; 1.13–1.46), but not in kidney cancer (SIR = 1.01; 95 % CI 0.79–1.27) or bladder cancer (SIR = 1.04; 95 % CI 0.82–1.30). Standardized incidence ratios stratified by duration of employment with DNT exposure indicated moderately increased risks for kidney and bladder cancer in cohort members with longer exposure.
Conclusions The SIR analysis of workers in the copper mining industry in comparison with the general population of Saxony-Anhalt overall did not indicate increased risks for renal or bladder cancer. However, results by years of exposure to DNT suggested weakly increased risks for outcomes of a priori interest, bladder and kidney cancer. A subsequent case-cohort analysis including expert assessment of DNT exposure and identification of additional cancer cases from a network of pathology institutes will provide further insight into a potential etiologic role of DNT in renal and urothelial cancer.