Chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAHs) were evaluated as potential risk factors for astrocytic brain tumors. Job-exposure matrices for six individual CAHs and for the general class of organic solvents were applied to data from a case-control study of brain cancer among white men. The matrices indicated whether the CAHs were likely to have been used in each industry and occupation by decade (1920-1980), and provided estimates of probability and intensity of exposure for “exposed” industries and occupations. Cumulative exposure indices were calculated for each subject.
Associations of astrocytic brain cancer were observed with likely exposure to carbon tetrachloride, methylene chloride, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene, but were strongest for methylene chloride. Exposure to chloroform or methyl chloroform showed little indication of an association with brain cancer. Risk of astrocytic brain tumors increased with probability and average intensity of exposure, and with duration of employment in jobs considered exposed to methylene chloride, but not with a cumulative exposure score. These trends could not be explained by exposures to the other solvents.