Summary and Conclusion

The relationship between exposure to organic solvents and bone cancer was reported in only four cohort studies, representing three different solvent exposures. Each study had low power, and exposure assessment relied primarily on job titles as surrogates of exposure. No case-control studies of bone cancer were identified. Studies with larger numbers of exposed cases (increased power) and more precise exposure assessment are needed for the committee to evaluate the relationship between solvent exposures and risk of bone cancer. Table 6.16 identifies the key studies and relevant data points reviewed by the committee in drawing its conclusion. Unless indicated in the table, the study populations include both men and women.

The committee concludes, from its assessment of the epidemiologic literature, that there is inadequate/insufficient evidence to determine whether an association exists between chronic exposure to solvents under review and bone cancer.

TABLE 6.16 Selected Epidemiologic Studies—Bone Cancer and Exposure to Organic Solvents


Study Population

Exposed Cases

Estimated Relative Risk (95% CI)


Cohort Study—Mortality

Blair et al., 1998

Aircraft maintenance workers in Utah, employed in exposed area >1 year


2.1 (0.2–18.8)


Cohort Study—Mortality

Wong, 1987a,b

Male Chemical Manufacturers Association workers



Continuous exposure


3.17 (0.38–11.46)


Duration of exposure



<5 years




5–14 years




≥15 years


Unspecified Mixtures of Organic Solvents

Cohort Study—Incidence

Nielsen et al., 1996

Danish lithographers, ever employed


11.4 (0.6–56.0)

Cohort Study—Mortality

Fu et al., 1996

Shoe-manufacturing workers



English cohort, employed in 1939


2.08 (0.76–4.52)


Probable solvent based on work area


1.12 (0.03–6.26)


Florence cohort, ever employed


0 (0.0–3.45)


Because of the lack of available studies on the relationship between exposure to organic solvents and soft tissue sarcomas (STS), a conclusion regarding association could not be drawn. Only one study (Serraino et al., 1992) identified by the committee analyzed the relationship between relevant exposures reviewed in this report (“benzene/solvents” and “dyes/paints”) and STS. Although the population-based case-control study observed an increased risk of STS among men exposed to “benzene/solvents” for more than 10 years (OR=2.2, 95% CI=0.9–5.5), the study was limited by the use of self-reported exposures. Additional studies are needed to support the relationship before a conclusion regarding association can be drawn.

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