Occupational exposure to trichloroethylene and cancer risk for workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant

Debra E. Bahr, Timothy E. Aldrich, Dazar Seidu, Gail M. Brion, David J. Tollerud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) became operational in 1952; it is located in the western part of Kentucky. We conducted a mortality study for adverse health effects that workers may have suffered while working at the plant, including exposures to chemicals. Materials and Methods: We studied a cohort of 6820 workers at the PGDP for the period 1953 to 2003; there were a total of 1672 deaths to cohort members. Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a specific concern for this workforce; exposure to TCE occurred primarily in departments that clean the process equipment. The Life Table Analysis System (LTAS) program developed by NIOSH was used to calculate the standardized mortality ratios for the worker cohort and standardized rate ratio relative to exposure to TCE (the U.S. population is the referent for age-adjustment). LTAS calculated a significantly low overall SMR for these workers of 0.76 (95% CI: 0.72-0.79). A further review of three major cancers of interest to Kentucky produced significantly low SMR for trachea, bronchus, lung cancer (0.75, 95% CI: 0.72-0.79) and high SMR for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) (1.49, 95% CI: 1.02-2.10). Results: No significant SMR was observed for leukemia and no significant SRRs were observed for any disease. Both the leukemia and lung cancer results were examined and determined to refect regional mortality patterns. However, the Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma finding suggests a curious amplification when living cases are included with the mortality experience. Conclusions: Further examination is recommended of this recurrent finding from all three U.S. Gaseous Diffusion plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-77
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Cohort study
  • Gaseous diffusion plant
  • Healthy worker effect
  • Trichloroethylene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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