Project: Chimney sweeping and risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease

Chimney sweeps in Sweden have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer. The increased risk is likely due to exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that are present in the soot. It is therefore needed to clarify to what extent today's Swedish chimney sweeps exhibit cardiovascular toxicity and cancer-related DNA changes and if the current PAH exposure is toxic.

Chimney sweeps have been recruited for determining exposure, medical examinations and sampling for biomarkers of cardiovascular toxicity and genotoxicity in blood, and urine. Biomarkers and symptoms are also measured in male warehouse workers with a low exposure to PAHs.

The study will clarify whether chimney sweeps’ current exposure is carcinogenic and results in higher risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition, it will determine whether exposure to PAH, as measured by carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic PAH metabolites, is driving these changes. The project is of importance because it can alter the risk assessment for PAH at workplace working conditions.

Contact person

Karin Broberg, Professor and Ayman Alhamdow, PhD student


  • FORTE - The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
  • AFA Försäkring


Early markers of cardiovascular disease are associated with occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Alhamdow A, Lindh C, Albin M, Gustavsson P, Tinnerberg H, Broberg K
Sci Rep 2017 Aug;7(1):9426

Chimney sweeps in Sweden: a questionnaire-based assessment of long-term changes in work conditions, and current eye and airway symptoms.
Alhamdow A, Gustavsson P, Rylander L, Jakobsson K, Tinnerberg H, Broberg K
Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2017 Feb;90(2):207-216