D. M. McElvenny1, W. Mueller1, L. Darnton2, F. Brooker1, M. W. Christensen3, H. Kolstad3

1IOM, Edinburgh, UK

2HSE, Bootle, UK

3Aarhus University, Denmark

Styrene is present in air pollution and tobacco smoke and it a high production volume chemical.  Occupational exposures to styrene are highest in the rubber and glass reinforced plastics industry.  In the latter, there are relatively few exposures to other known or suspected carcinogens.  In 2018, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) upgraded its hazard classification for styrene to probably carcinogenic.

The present study forms part of an IARC-coordinated international study of glass-reinforced plastics workers from Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the UK that found some evidence of an association with lymphohaematopoietic cancers (1,2).

Study clearances for the cohort study to obtain mortality and cancer incidence data included NHS ethics, Health Research Authority Confidentiality Advisory Group and NHS England Information Group Advising on the Release of Data. SMRs and SIRs were calculated using England and Wales as the comparator.  Follow-up was from 1969 for deaths and 1971 for cancers to 2019.

A total of 1,319 individuals contributed 53,687 person-years of follow-up.  Analyses of lymphohaematopoetic cancers combined showed non-significant excess for mortality SMR 1.26 (0.76-2.08, n=15) and cancer incidence data SIR 1.13 (077-1.65, n=27).  Analyses of broad disease grouping showed unremarkable results for analyses of time since first exposure or age at first exposure.

The results show some degree of consistency with the hypothesis that styrene causes an increased risk of lymphohaematopoietic cancers.  These data will be included in an updated analysis of the IARC cohort that is being coordinated by researchers at Aarhus University.


  1. Kogevinas M, Ferro G, Andersen A, Bellander T, Biocca M, Coggon D, et al. Cancer mortality in a historical cohort study of workers exposed to styrene. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 1994(4):251-61.
  2. Kogevinas M, Gerro G, Saracci R, Andersen A, Bellander T, Biocca M, et al. IARC Historical Multicentric Cohort Study of Workers Exposed to Styrene. Report of the Epidemiological Study and the Industrial Hygiene Investigation. Lyon, France: IARC; 1994.  Contract No.: IARC Internal Report 94/002.


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