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NCI Acrylonitrile Cohort

Acrylonitrile is a commercially important chemical used in the production of synthetic fibers and resins, plastics, nitrile rubbers, and many other products. Results from animal bioassays and epidemiologic studies suggest it might cause cancers of the lung, brain, prostate, stomach, hematopoietic and lymphatic systems. However, findings from early epidemiologic studies were inconsistent and inconclusive due to being underpowered and lack of exposure characterization.

The NCI Acrylonitrile Cohort is a study of 25,460 workers employed at eight facilities that produce or use acrylonitrile in the United States. Follow-up of this cohort through 1989 found no elevated risk for any cancer, but there was an excess for lung cancer in the highest quintile of cumulative exposure more than 20 years after first exposure.

The NCI cohort is the largest study to date, with the most detailed exposure assessment and smoking information on a subset of the cohort. Extended death follow-up of the cohort, adding 21 years of mortality information, showed a statistically significant exposure-response relationship between acrylonitrile exposure and lung cancer death among workers. Additional positive associations between exposures were also observed for death from bladder cancer and for non-malignant respiratory disease.

For more information, contact Dr. Stella Koutros.

Select Publications

Keil A et alEstimating impacts of reducing acrylonitrile exposure on lung cancer mortality in an occupational cohort with the parametric g-formulaOccup and Environ Med. 2024.

Koutros S et al. Extended mortality follow-up of a cohort of 25,460 workers exposed to acrylonitrile. Am J Epidemiol. 2019.

Blair A et al. Mortality of industrial workers exposed to acrylonitrile. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1998.