The authors conducted an ecological study of the distribution of malignant lymphomas in a rice-growing area in northern Italy. They considered data on concentrations of phenoxy herbicides in soil and water and found the highest incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in subjects who lived in an area where 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid existed in very high concentrations. During 1985-1988, the incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in males in the most-polluted municipalities was twice as high as was noted for the remaining less-polluted territories. During 1991-1993, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was higher by 60%. The authors also conducted a population-based case-control study. They found an association between employment of women in rice-growing jobs (particularly as rise weeders) and risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (odds ratio = 1.9; 95% confidence interval = 0.6, 6.0). Work in rice fields was correlated strongly with residence in polluted areas. The authors did not detect an association between area of residence or occupation and incidence of Hodgkin's disease.