Exposure assessment for a nested case-control study of lung cancer among European asphalt workers

Michela Agostini, Gilles Ferro, Ann Olsson, Igor Burstyn, Frank De Vocht, Johnni Hansen, Christina Funch Lassen, Christoffer Johansen, Kristina Kjaerheim, Sverre Langard, Isabelle Stucker, Wolfgang Ahrens, Thomas Behrens, Marja Liisa Lindbohm, Pirjo Heikkilä, Dick Heederik, Lützen Portengen, Judith Shaham, Paolo Boffetta, Hans Kromhout

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: Development of a method for retrospective assessment of exposure to bitumen fume, bitumen condensate, organic vapour, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and co-exposures to known or suspected lung carcinogens for a nested case-control study of lung cancer mortality among European asphalt workers.Methods: Company questionnaires and structured questionnaires used in interviews and industry-specific job-exposure matrices (JEMs) were elaborated and applied. Three sources of information were eventually used for exposure assessment and assignment: (i) data obtained in cohort phase, (ii) data from living subjects, next-of-kin, and fellow-workers questionnaires, and (iii) JEMs for bitumen exposure by inhalation and via skin and co-exposures to known or suspected lung carcinogens within and outside cohort companies. Inhalation and dermal exposure estimates for bitumen were adjusted for time trends, time spent in a job, and other determinants of exposure (e.g. oil gravel paving). Clothing patterns, personal protective devices, and personal hygiene were taken into consideration while estimating dermal exposure.Results: Occupational exposures could be assessed for 433 cases and 1253 controls for relevant time periods. Only 43% of work histories were spent inside original asphalt and construction companies. A total of 95.8% of job periods in cohort companies could be coded at a more detailed level. Imputation of work time and 'hygienic behaviour' multipliers was needed for 0.7) among bitumen-related agents, while correlations between coal tar, bitumen-related agents, and established lung carcinogens were weaker (r <0.4).Conclusions: A systematic and detailed approach was developed to estimate inhalation and dermal exposure for a nested case-control study among asphalt workers. © The Author 2010.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)813-823
    Number of pages10
    JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


    • asphalt industry
    • bitumen
    • case-control study
    • dermal exposure
    • epidemiology
    • exposure assessment
    • inhalation exposure
    • lung cancer


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