Many nitrosamines are suspected of being human carcinogens, with the highest concentrations in the environment being measured in the rubber industry. Time trends of personal exposure to N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and to N-nitrosomorpholine (NMor) during the past two decades in the German rubber industry were analysed and compared with cross-sectional studies in the same period in the Netherlands, Poland, the UK and Sweden. In the majority of the surveyed departments exposures reduced over time, but considerable heterogeneity was present between departments and sectors. Significant reductions were primarily found in curing and post-treating departments and ranged from -3% year-1 to -19% year-1. In contrast, NDMA levels increased (+13% year-1) in maintenance and engineering in the tyres industry. Average NDMA-levels in general rubber goods (GRG) and NMor-levels in tyre production in Germany did not decrease significantly in the past two decades, whereas NDMA-levels in tyre production (-10% year-1) and NMor-levels in GRG (-7% year-1) declined significantly after the introduction of an exposure limit for total nitrosamines in Germany in 1988. Confidence intervals of average exposures in other studied countries largely overlap trends observed in Germany. Exposure to N-nitrosamines decreased on average two-to-five fold in the German rubber industry with comparable concentration levels in other European countries. Although average levels are well below the current limits exposure has not been eliminated, and incidental high exposures do still occur. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.