A chemical, mixture, or agent that either directly causes cancer or raises the risk of cancer development is referred to as a carcinogen. In addition to chemicals like benzene, naturally occurring minerals like asbestos, viruses like Hepatitis B, hormones like estrogens, hormone-like substances like estrogens, alcohol, and sun radiation are all known carcinogens (e.g., ultraviolet radiation).
What is cancer in the workplace?
Cancer that is entirely or partially brought on by exposure to a carcinogen at work is referred to as occupational cancer.
How widespread is workplace cancer?
According to research, the percentage of cancer cases linked to occupational exposure varies depending on the type of cancer. The most prevalent forms of occupational cancer include mesothelioma, bladder cancer, and lung cancer. Estimated% Type of Cancer Associated with Occupational Exposure (USA) Lung 6.3-13% Bladder 3% to 19% Mesothelioma affects 85–90% of men and 23–90% of women. Leukemia 0.8-2.8% 1-2% of the larynx (men) Sun Cancer (non-melanoma) 1.5-6% (men) (men) Nasopharyngeal and sinonasal 31-43% (men) renal 0-2.3% Liver 0.4-1.1 (vinyl chloride only; men) * In general, women have a 23% total attributable chance of developing mesothelioma. The risk may be as high as 90% if the woman has experienced """"take-home"""" asbestos exposure. Asbestos can be brought home on contaminated work gear or other objects, which causes ""take-home"" exposure. Data Source: Dying for Work: The US Mortality Rate from Selected Causes Associated with Occupation. K. Steenland and others 43, no. 3, pp. 461-482, American Journal of Occupational Medicine, 2003
How can we tell whether a substance can cause cancer?
Studies that examine the link between exposure and the chance of acquiring cancer in human populations are used by scientists to determine the causes of cancer. investigations that look at how exposure affects the likelihood of acquiring cancer in lab animals assays that determine a substance's capacity to alter cells' genetic makeup, as well as understanding of chemical structures and how substances interact with the body When deciding whether a substance can cause cancer, scientists frequently consult any or all of these sources for information or supporting data.
Exist any lists of drugs or agents that have been linked to the disease?
Carcinogen identification is challenging. Fortunately, a number of organizations assess the available data in accordance with predetermined standards. The following organizations release the most reliable lists of known carcinogens: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), an independent US organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organization agency National Toxicology Program (NTP), an interagency US program IARC According to the degree of the scientific evidence for carcinogenicity, IARC divides each agent or exposure into one of five classes as follows: Group 1: Human carcinogens Group 2A: Probably human carcinogenic Group 2B: Possibly human carcinogenic Group 3 - Unclassifiable in terms of its human carcinogenicity Group 4: Probably not human carcinogenic The website for IARC Monographs has a list. ACGIH Chemicals or agents are categorized by ACGIH into one of the following 5 groups: A1 - Human carcinogen confirmed A2 - Possibly carcinogenic to humans A3 - Known to cause cancer in animals but not in humans A4 - Not classifiable as a human carcinogen A5 - Not believed to cause cancer in humans The ACGIH TLVs® and BEIs® brochure, which is released annually, contains a list of the carcinogens that have been found. For further information, visit the website for the ACGIH. NTP NTP releases a list of compounds every two years that they have assessed and classified into one of two groups: Recognized Human Carcinogens Reasonably Anticipated to be Human Carcinogens Their 14th Report on Carcinogens is available online.
What are examples of occupational exposures that have been associated with cancer?
Examples of occupations and occupational groups that have been associated with occupational cancer are listed in the following table Occupations or Occupational Groups Associated with Carcinogen Exposure.
Is exposure to a specific carcinogen associated with a certain type of cancer?
In many cases, certain types of cancer are associated with specific carcinogens. Our OSH Answers document Cancer Sites Associated with Occupational Exposures has a list of examples.
Are workplace exposures to carcinogenic agents regulated?
Many Canadian jurisdictions do regulate workplace exposures to carcinogens (e.g., asbestos). The specific substances regulated and regulatory requirements vary by jurisdiction. Regulations typically specify maximum exposure limits. In some cases, the regulations may require routine monitoring of the workplace, medical surveillance of workers, specific record keeping, etc. Check with your local department or ministry responsible for occupational health and safety for more information.
Does WHMIS apply to carcinogens?
In Canada, the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is a nation-wide system that ensures people have the information they need to work safely with hazardous products (including carcinogens) in the workplace. In 2015, Canada aligned WHMIS with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The original system is identified as WHMIS 1988. Updates which implement GHS will be referred to as WHMIS 2015. The WHMIS 2015 legislation is currently in force. """"In force"""" means that suppliers may begin to use and follow the new requirements for labels and safety data sheets (SDSs) for hazardous products sold, distributed, or imported into Canada. However, there is a transition period with various stages. At the beginning of the transition period, the supplier must fully comply with either the repealed Controlled Products Regulations (WHMIS 1988) or the Hazardous Products Regulations (WHMIS 2015) for a specific controlled or hazardous product. See the OSH Answers document on WHMIS 2015 – General for additional information. WHMIS 1988 When following WHMIS 1988 requirements, agents on the following lists are classified as carcinogens: IARC Group 1 (Carcinogenic to humans) IARC Group 2A (Probably carcinogenic to humans) IARC Group 2B (Possibly carcinogenic to humans) ACGIH A1 (Confirmed human carcinogen) ACGIH A2 (Suspected human carcinogen) When a product that is a mixture has not been tested to determine its health hazards, WHMIS 1988 states that if the product contains an ingredient that is classified as a carcinogen and that ingredient is found in the controlled product at a concentration greater or equal to (>) 0.1%, the product must also be classified as a carcinogen. Products classified for carcinogenicity are included in the WHMIS 1988 category D2: Class D - Poisonous and Infectious materials - Division 2: Materials Causing Other Toxic Effects. The symbol used for this hazard class is the stylized """"T"""". WHMIS 2015 When following WHMIS 2015 requirements, the Carcinogenicity hazard class has two categories - Category 1 and Category 2. Category 1 has two subcategories - Category 1A and Category 1B. A hazardous product that is a substance is assigned to the Carcinogenicity hazard class and category based on evaluation of the available scientific evidence according to detailed criteria published in the Hazardous Products Regulations. A hazardous product that is a Category 1 (1A or 1B) may cause cancer. A hazardous product that is a Category 2 is suspected of causing cancer. A hazardous product that is a mixture may be assigned the Carcinogenicity hazard class based on the following: Carcinogenicity - Category 1: it contains at least one ingredient at a concentration greater or equal to (>) 0.1% that is classified in Carcinogenicity - Category 1A or in Carcinogenicity - Category 1B, Carcinogenicity - Category 2: it contains at least one ingredient at a concentration greater or equal to (>) 0.1% that is classified in the category Carcinogenicity - Category 2 Note: Other approaches to classifying mixtures for carcinogenicity may apply. Consult the Hazardous Products Regulations for additional information. If a hazardous product is classified for Carcinogenicity, the following standardized label elements apply: Category 1 Category 2 Pictogram Signal Word Danger Warning Hazard Statement May cause cancer * Suspected of causing cancer* Precautionary Statements Obtain special instructions before use. Do not handle until all safety precautions have been read and understood. Wear protective gloves/protective clothing/eye protection/face protection. IF exposed or concerned: Get medical advice/attention. Store locked up. Dispose of contents/container to ... * State route of exposure if it is conclusively proven that no other routes of exposure cause the cancer. Note: The supplier may adapt the precautionary statements as allowed by the HPR.
Is it possible to work safely with a carcinogen?
Both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 require that people who work with hazardous products have education and training about the potential hazards of the products and how to work with them safely. Information on the hazard classification and how to work safely with that product is included on the Material Safety Data Sheets/Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs/SDSs). There are many ways to control the hazards of any substance or agent. A hazard control program consists of all steps necessary to protect workers from exposure, and the procedures required to monitor worker exposure and their health. Knowing which control method is best can be a complicated process. It often involves doing a risk assessment to evaluate and prioritize the hazards and risks. For more information, please see the following documents in OSH Answers: Risk Assessment Hazard Control The following general advice can help you work safely with a carcinogen: Consult the MSDS/SDS for information about the hazards and necessary precautions for the specific carcinogenic product you are using. Understand all of the hazards associated with the product, including additional health concerns (e.g., serious short-term health effects or irritation), reactivity and flammability. Know how to use the product safely to protect yourself and co-workers. Ensure engineering controls (e.g., ventilation) are operating. Closed handling systems may be necessary to prevent the release of the product (dust, mist, vapour, gas) into the workplace. Use the smallest quantity possible. Follow safe work practices specified by your employer. Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment specified for the job. This equipment may include respiratory protection and chemical protective clothing, such as an apron and gloves, made from materials that protect against the chemicals being handled. Report ventilation failures, leaks, or spills to your supervisor immediately. Understand and practice emergency procedures so that you know what to do in case of a spill or other emergency.
Why is reducing exposure important?
Reducing exposure will reduce your risk of developing cancer from exposure to a carcinogen. Typically, there are 3 important routes of exposure in a workplace setting — inhalation (breathing in), skin contact and ingestion (swallowing). In addition, there are several factors that can influence how likely a product is to cause a specific effect (e.g., cancer), for example: Route of entry into the body (e.g., some carcinogens will only cause cancer if inhaled, but not by skin contact). Amount or dose entering the body (in general, a higher exposure increases risk). Potency of the carcinogen (some carcinogens cause cancer if there is exposure to even a very small amount, while others may require intense exposure over many years). Individual susceptibility (e.g., some people may be more susceptible to developing cancer due to their genetic make-up). Personal habits (e.g., smoking acts synergistically with many carcinogens. This action means that if you smoke, your risk of developing cancer following a workplace exposure to a carcinogen is MUCH higher). When considering if a person may have been exposed to a chemical, or if measures are being taken to reduce exposures currently in the workplace, there are many questions that should be asked. Some include: Inhalation (breathing in) Is the work environment dirty? Is respiratory protection worn (respirators)? Is the hazardous agent used in an """"open"""" or """"closed"""" system? Skin contact/absorption Is there skin contact? Is personal protective equipment worn (e.g., gloves, aprons)? Is work clothing laundered properly? Are proper hand washing facilities available? Ingestion (swallowing) Is eating or smoking allowed in the work area? Is food stored in the work area? Another important factor is how long and how much a person was exposed to the agent. Duration (how long) of exposure to some agents may be infrequent or only in very small amounts, while others may be used daily or in very large amounts. The number of weeks or years on the job may provide an estimate of the degree of exposure. In general, the higher the exposure (duration and/or amount), the higher the risk of developing a health effect, including cancer. For more information on how substances enter the body or how they are poisonous, and related topics, please see our other OSH Answer documents: How Workplace Chemicals Enter the Body What Makes Chemicals Poisonous? What is an LD50 and LC50? What are the Effects of Dust on the Lungs? How Do Particulates Enter the Respiratory System?
Where can I get more information?
There are many organizations that can provide assistance for people with cancers. These are just a few* that mention occupational cancers specifically. Cancer And the Workplace: An Overview for Workers and Employers. Alberta Cancer Foundation Occupational Cancer. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), USA Occupational Exposure. Canadian Cancer Society Carcinogens (Safety and Health Topics). Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), USA (*We have mentioned these organizations as a means of providing a potentially useful referral. You should contact the organization(s) directly for more information about their services. Please note that mention of these organizations does not represent a recommendation or endorsement by CCOHS of these organizations over others of which you may be aware.)""" - https://www.affordablecebu.com/