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RR849 - The burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain - Predicting the future burden of occupational cancer – Methodology

The methodology developed to estimate the future burden of cancers in GB attributable to occupational exposure is summarised in this report. The method builds on the attributable fraction approach developed to estimate the current burden of occupational cancer in GB. For future estimates the risk exposure periods (REPs), for cancer latencies up to 50 years, have been projected forward in time to estimate attributable fractions for a series of forecast target years. The method takes into account past and projected trends in exposure and quantifies the impact of possible strategies to reduce the future burden of cancers (eg, introducing and achieving compliance with exposure limits). Adjustment factors are introduced to account for changes in exposed numbers and exposure levels, and are applied in estimation intervals within the REPs.

The report contains illustrative scenarios aimed at reducing future lung cancers due to occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS). These examples suggest that attributable fractions for lung cancer due to RCS could be reduced from 2.07% in 2010 to nearly zero by 2060, depending on the timing and success of these interventions. The importance of achieving compliance with current exposure standards in small industries is highlighted and may be more effective than setting lower exposure standards. The method has been used to forecast future cancer burdens for other high-risk carcinogens and occupations identified by the HSE current cancer burden work. It is also adaptable for other countries and other exposure situations in the general environment and can accommodate socio-economic impact assessments.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2011-04-04