Department of Public Health Sciences

Past exposure to asbestos among active railroad workers

Garshick, E., M. B. Schenker, S. R. Woskie and F. E. Speizer

Am J Ind Med. 1987. 12(4):399-406.

Before the transition from steam- to diesel-powered locomotives during the 1950s certain railroad workers had the opportunity for significant occupational exposure to asbestos. Past studies have demonstrated that older workers with jobs associated with the repair of steam locomotives had the most exposure. To determine the prevalence of currently employed railroad workers with past asbestos exposure we surveyed 514 white male employees of an active US railroad by mail questionnaire. Twenty-one percent (50/242) of the workers 50 years old or greater had likely asbestos exposure compared to 3% (9/275) of the workers 49 years old or less (p less than .001). Fifteen (30%) of the 50 older workers with likely asbestos exposure had current job titles no longer suggestive of past exposure. The duration of exposure of these older active workers was short, (median = 3 years; range, 6 months to 15 years). A history of past asbestos exposure may still be obtained among active railroad workers with past railroad shop employment.

Keywords: Adult, Age Factors, Aged, *Asbestos, Environmental Exposure, Human, Male, Middle Age, Questionnaires, *Railroads, Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S., Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

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