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OEH Seminar: Mortality among autoworkers manufacturing electronics in Huntsville, Alabama
Monday, April 9, 2018 12:30 pm to 01:30 pm
Venue: Boardroom 350, 480 University Avenue, Toronto ON
Environmental and Occupational Health
City: Toronto
Type: Seminar
Format: Webinar; In Person

​Please note: This is an open invitation and may be forwarded to interested parties.

Former employees at an automotive electronics manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama raised concerns over suspected excess mortality among their fellow workers. The United Autoworkers (UAW) union sought the help of epidemiologists to investigate these concerns. In response, we conducted a study of cause-specific mortality among 4,396 workers employed at the facility between 1972 and 1993. The cohort was enumerated from UAW employment and pension records. Follow-up for vital status and cause of death was conducted through 2016 using UAW pension records and the U.S. National Death Index. Interviews with former employees identified lead-based solder, chlorinated solvents, and asbestos as exposures of concern during the assembly of electronic circuit boards. External comparisons of mortality with U.S. general population rates indicated an excess of all-cause mortality among White female workers and among all workers hired prior to 1977 at the original plant building. There was also evidence of excess mortality in the overall cohort for malignant and non-malignant diseases of the brain and nervous system. Internal comparisons indicated workers hired at the original plant building had an increased adjusted rate of mortality due to brain and nervous system cancer, stroke, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma relative to later hires. Our finding of a relative excess of nervous system disease mortality in the cohort is consistent with worker concerns over exposure to lead and chlorinated solvents.

Presenter:  Nathan DeBono

Nathan DeBono is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been collaborating with the United Autoworkers (UAW) Health & Safety Department to conduct a mortality investigation among former employees exposed to lead and chlorinated solvents at an electronics manufacturing facility in Alabama. He is a trainee with the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) doctoral training program in Occupational Epidemiology and is a former student research fellow at the NIOSH Industrywide Studies Branch (IWSB) in Cincinnatti, Ohio. His prior research has focused on racial inequalities in breast cancer incidence in North Carolina. His research interests include community-based participatory research, disease investigations in the workplace, and cancer prevention.

The Occupational and Environmental Health Seminar Series is a self-approved group learning activity (Section 1) as defined by the Maintenance of Certification program of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The series is also approved by Council of Professional Experience for professional development hours (PDHs) for members of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI), and by the Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists (CRBOH) for Registration Maintenance (RM) points. For more information, please contact Elaina MacIntyre (

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.


Stay up to date on upcoming Occupational and Environmental Health Seminars by visiting our schedule. For comments or questions about this series, please email Elaina MacIntyre (

Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or

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Page updated on [date/time] 2018-03-28 10:18 AM
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