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Bladder cancer and oil mists

Results of INRS study

Oil mists are cutting fluid aerosols composed of straight oils or aqueous fluids (soluble oils or synthetic fluids). Certain chemicals can be present in such fluids or can form while they are being used: in particular polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (in the case of straight oils and soluble fluids), and nitrosamines (in the case of aqueous fluids).

The objective of this study by INRS was to determine whether a risk of bladder cancer is associated with occupational exposure to oil mist, resulting from the more recent use of straight oils or aqueous fluids, while taking into account other occupational and extra-occupational carcinogens. This risk was studied in the steel industry in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in France.

A case-control study was put in place in a cohort constituted of all employees recruited from 1960 to 1997 in six steel works in the Nord–Pas-de-Calais region. The cases of bladder cancers occurring in the subjects of the cohort, during the period 2006-2012, were identified based on data from the French national health insurance scheme, and on information from 21 public and private hospitals in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

This study showed a relationship between occurrence of bladder cancer and occupational exposure to cutting fluid mists of all types, as well as straight-oil cutting fluid mists. The relationship dates back to exposures 30 years ago. The study did not show any relationship between bladder cancer and exposure to aqueous fluids (soluble oils or synthetic fluids).

Last update on 23/04/2017