Burden of lung cancer attributable to occupational diesel engine exhaust exposure in Canada

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Abstract

Objective

To estimate the population attributable fraction (PAF) and number of incident and fatal lung cancers in Canada from occupational exposure to diesel engine exhaust (DEE).

Methods

DEE exposure prevalence and level estimates were used with Canadian Census and Labour Force Survey data to model the exposed population across the risk exposure period (REP, 1961–2001). Relative risks of lung cancer were calculated based on a meta-regression selected from the literature. PAFs were calculated using Levin’s equation and applied to the 2011 lung cancer statistics obtained from the Canadian Cancer Registry.

Results

We estimated that 2.4% (95% CI 1.6% to 6.6%) of lung cancers in Canada are attributable to occupational DEE exposure, corresponding to approximately 560 (95% CI 380 to 1570) incident and 460 (95% CI 310 to 1270) fatal lung cancers in 2011. Overall, 1.6 million individuals alive in 2011 were occupationally exposed to DEE during the REP, 97% of whom were male. Occupations with the highest burden were underground miners, truck drivers and mechanics. Half of the attributable lung cancers occurred among workers with low exposure.

Conclusions

This is the first study to quantify the burden of lung cancer attributable to occupational DEE exposure in Canada. Our results underscore a large potential for prevention, and a large public health impact from occupational exposure to low levels of DEE.

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