According to research undertaken by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, hard metal industry workers do not face an elevated risk of contracting lung cancer.
The study involved more than 32,000 workers from across the US, UK, Sweden, Austria and Germany.
This research contradicts previous studies which have indicated that ingredients in hard metals increases the risk of lung cancer. Hard metal typically is made by heating tungsten and carbon to form tungsten carbide powder; then adding powdered binders such as cobalt or nickel. Cobalt has been shown to cause cancer in animals and also can be a serious lung irritant.
“Our findings will affect regulatory agencies and how they set exposure standards,” said principal investigator Gary M. Marsh, PhD, professor of biostatistics at Pitt Public Health and director and founder of the school’s Center for Occupational Biostatistics & Epidemiology.
“It is very good news that the workers in this industry are not at increased risk of death due to the materials used in their occupation, both for the employees and for the hard metal industry.”
Also, the study found that exposure levels for tungsten, cobalt, and nickel were all below the standards set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists and recommended by OSHA.
The results of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine as a series of eight articles.