Review and update of leukemia risk potentially associated with occupational exposure to benzene

S. M. Brett, J. V. Rodricks, V. M. Chinchilli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Since the 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) proposal to lower the occupational benzene standard from 10 ppm to 1 ppm, numerous quantitative assessments of the leukemia risk of benzene exposure have been prepared. The primary difference between these risk assessments has been in the way in which benzene exposure has been estimated and in the models applied to describe the dose-response relationship. The more recent assessments, in attempting to estimate benzene exposures on an individual basis, and in applying models which make maximal use of the available data points, represent a substantial improvement over earlier assessments. In this paper, we will review the available risk assessments and the data upon which they are based and will present our own assessment, which builds on prior efforts. Our reevaluation of the underlying data on the cohort that we judged to be most suitable for quantitative risk analysis suggested that past assessments may have overestimated risk by a factor of 3 to 24. In addition, we will present some recently made available data of relevance to the benzene exposure histories of cohort of concern. These data provide additional suggestion that the total benzene exposure of certain members of this cohort has likely been seriously underestimated, the extent to which remains to be determined. Further analysis of these data and pursuit of additional sources to improve the characterization of the benzene exposure of this cohort appear to be warranted in order to define more precisely the benzene-leukemia dose-response relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
StatePublished - 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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