Saf Health Work.  2011 Mar;2(1):26-33.

Lymphohematopoietic Cancer Mortality and Morbidity of Workers in a Refinery/Petrochemical Complex in Korea

  • 1Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Incheon, Korea.


OBJECTIVES: The purpose
of this retrospective cohort study was to investigate the relationship between exposure of Korean workers to petrochemicals in the refinery/petrochemical industry and lymphohematopoietic cancers.
The cohort consisted of 8,866 male workers who had worked from the 1960s to 2007 at one refinery and six petrochemical companies located in a refinery/petrochemical complex in Korea that produce benzene or use benzene as a raw material. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for 1992-2007 and 1997-2005 based on the death rate and cancer incidence rate of the Korean male population according to job title (production, maintenance, laboratory, and office workers).
The overall mortality and most cause-specific mortalities were lower among these workers than those of the general Korean population. Increased SMRs were observed for leukemia (4/1.45; SMR 2.77, 95% CI: 0.75-7.09) and lymphohematopoietic cancers (5/2.51; SMR 2, 95% CI: 0.65-4.66) in production workers, and increased SIRs were also observed in leukemia (3/1.34; SIR 2.24, 95% CI: 0.46-6.54) and lymphohematopoietic cancers (5/3.39; SIR 1.47, 95% CI: 0.48-3.44) in production workers, but the results were not statistically significant.
The results showed a potential relationship between leukemia and lymphohematopoietic cancers and exposure to benzene in refinery/petrochemical complex workers. This study yielded limited results due to a short observational period; therefore, a follow-up study must be performed to elucidate the relationship between petrochemical exposure and cancer rates.


Petrochemical; Leukemia; Refinery; Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Multiple myeloma; Cancer
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