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Revista de Saúde Pública

On-line version ISSN 1518-8787Print version ISSN 0034-8910


MATTOS, Inês E.  and  KOIFMAN, Sérgio. Cancer mortality among electricity utility workers in a Southeastern region Brazil. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 1996, vol.30, n.6, pp.564-575. ISSN 1518-8787.

A number of epidemiologic studies have observed an association between exposure to 50-60 Hz electromagnetic fields and the development of specific types of cancer. In Brazil, a preliminary report from a study of electricity facility workers in Rio de Janeiro (RJ) has mentioned relatively similar results. An exploratory analysis of death certificates obtained from a sample of electricity workers in S. Paulo was made. Data was analysed by using the Proportional Mortality Ratio (PMR) and the Proportional Cancer Mortality Ratio (PCMR). A slightly elevated all-sites cancer mortality was observed among these workers (PMR 1.11; 95% CI 0.91-1.35). Site specific analysis has shown a statistically significant higher mortality of laryngeal cancer (PCMR 2.04; 95% CI 1.05-4.20). An excess of deaths was also seen for cancers of the buccal cavity/pharynx, prostate, bladder, brain and Hodgkin's disease, although the results lacked statistical significance. When analysed by categories of estimated exposure to magnetic fields, an excess of deaths from bladder cancer (PCMR 4.17; 95% CI 1.35-9.72), neoplasms of the brain (PCMR 7.7; 95% CI 1.02-9.65) and Hodgkin's disease (PCMR 5.55; 95% CI 1.14-16.21) was observed in the group with probably higher exposure to EMF. A comparison of cancer mortality between these workers and petrochemical employees has shown a higher PCMR for larynx tumours (PCMR 3.51; 95% CI 3.02-15.51) and bladder cancer (PCMR 7.53; 95% CI 3.02-15.51). For brain tumours, however, a PCMR of 0,74 (95% CI 0.27-1.61) was noted. Although restrictions related to sample size in the study and the lack of information about known confounders must be considered, the results of this study do not fully disagree with others previously mentioned in the literature.

Keywords : Occupational exposure [adverse effects]; Neoplasms [mortality]; Electricity [adverse effects].

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