Research Projects



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Currentright arrow Completedright arrow


Currentright arrow Completedright arrow

Cancer in meat workers: identifying the causal exposures

The aims of this project are:

  1. To assess exposure to proteins as a marker of antigenic stimulation in a representative sample of New Zealand meat workers.
  2. To assess exposure to specific markers of urine, blood and faecal matter in the same group of meat workers.
  3. To assess exposures to specific pathogens with known carcinogenic properties in meat workers.
  4. To assess serum antibody titres against specific pathogens as a long term measure of exposure to these pathogens in meat workers.
  5. To assess the presence of specific pathogens in the airways of meat workers as a biomarker of exposure in one of the target organs (i.e. the lungs).
  6. To assess the mutagenicity of whole bioaerosol samples collected in the work place to identify novel exposures not previously suggested as being involved in cancer development in meat workers.
  7. To determine average exposure levels and differences in exposure between different groups of meat workers in order to develop reliable exposure models for the agents measured.
  8. To update and reanalyse the existing New Zealand meat workers cohort using these refined exposure estimates with the ultimate aim of identifying one or more of the specific causal exposures underlying the excess risk of cancer observed in meat workers.



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Hall R, Wang J, Ren X, Moore N, Brooks C, Peacey M, Douwes J, McLean D. Metagenomic detection of viruses in aerosol samples from workers in animal slaughterhouses. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8(8): e72226.
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McLean D, Biggs P, Hall R, French N, Pearce N, Douwes J. Metagenomic detection of bacteria in aerosol samples in animal slaughterhouses to develop exposure profiles for an epidemiological analysis. Occ Environ Med, 2014; 71 (S1): A21 (abstract). link icon

July 2010


  • Dr Richard Hall
  • Institute of Environmental Science and Research, NZ
  • Dr Christopher Pope
  • Institute of Environmental Science and Research, NZ
  • Dr Jackie Benschop
  • Epicentre, Massey University, NZ
  • Dr John Kerr
  • Occupational Medicine Specialist
  • Dr Rob Weinkove
  • Malaghan Institute of Medical Research


  • Health Research Council of New Zealand