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Creosote and cancer -Cancer incidence among workers exposed to creosote
1990 - IRG/WP 3572
Creosote is a wood preservative that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are known to be carcinogenic. Cancer incidence among 919 male workers in Sweden and Norway exposed to creosote in the wood preserving industry was studied. The expected numbers of cases were based on the incidence rates of cancer according to the Cancer Registries of Sweden and Norway. A total of 129 cancer cases was observed for the entire cohort, 137 cases being expected. The total cancer morbidity was thus somewhat lower than expected. Nine cases of cancer of the skin (squamous cell carcinoma) were observed, four cases being expected. This study does not confirm that exposure to creosote in the wood preserving industry has caused an excess of total cancer morbidity. The study indicates, however, that exposure to creosote might increase the incidence of skin cancer. Ultra-violet light is known to be a factor of importance in generating this type of cancer. Since the impregnation work as mainly carried out in the open air the explanation to the excess morbidity might be a combined effect of creosote and sun light.
S Karlehagen, A Andersen, C-G Ohlson