OSH Answers Fact Sheets

Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >

Search all fact sheets:

Type a word, a phrase, or ask a question

Occupations or Occupational Groups Associated with Carcinogen Exposures

What are examples of occupational exposures that have been associated with exposure to carcinogens?

Examples of occupations and occupational groups that are more likely to have been exposed to carcinogens are listed in the following table.

Please note: This list was complied from information available from reputable sources, but it is not complete. It represents associations that have been reported in literature between occupations and examples of substances often linked to cancer that may have been used in the workplace.

Exposure to a carcinogen does not necessarily mean that you will develop cancer. The OSH Answers on Occupational Cancer has more information.

Some Occupations or Occupational Groups
Associated with Carcinogen Exposure
Occupations and Occupational Groups Suspect Substance
Aircraft and aerospace industries Asbestos, Beryllium and beryllium compounds; Ionizing radiation
Aluminum production Aromatic amines; Pitch volatiles
Asbestos cement industry Asbestos
Auramine manufacture Auramine; 2-Naphthylamine; Pigments
Battery production workers Cadmium and cadmium compounds
Beryllium extraction and processing Beryllium and beryllium compounds
Boot and shoe manufacture/repair Leather dust, benzene and other solvents
Bus and truck drivers; Dock workers; Filling station attendants; Mechanics; Operators of excavating machines; Professional drivers; Railroad workers; Transport industry Diesel engine exhaust
Cadmium-copper alloy workers; Cadmium-smelter workers Cadmium and cadmium compounds
Carpentry and joinery; Furniture and cabinet making Wood dust
Ceramic production Cobalt and cobalt compounds
Chemical and rubber industries Aromatic amines; 1,3-Butadiene; Isoprene
Chemical industry Acetamide; Acrylamide; Benzene
Chromate production plants; Chromium ferro-alloy production Chromium (VI) compounds
Coal gasification, coke production Coal tar, coal-tar fumes; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Construction; Insulation and maintenance workers Asbestos; Glass wool; Silica (crystalline); Toluene diisocyanates
Dry cleaning Carbon tetrachloride; Tetrachloroethylene; Trichloroethylene
Dye and pigment production Aromatic amines (e.g., 2-naphthylamine, 4-aminobiphenyl); Benzidine; Cadmium and cadmium compounds; Chromium (VI) compounds
Electrical capacitor manufacturing Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Electronic production/industries Beryllium and beryllium compounds; Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
Electroplating processes Cadmium and cadmium compounds
Fabric manufacture (heat-resistant) Ceramic fibres (refractory; respirable)
Firefighters Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Furnace insulators Ceramic fibres (refractory; respirable)
Furniture restorers Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
Glass production Cobalt and cobalt compounds
Hairdressers & barbers Aerosols, Dyes (aromatic amines, amino-phenols with hydrogen peroxide); Propellants; Solvents
Hematite mining; Uranium miners Radon daughters; Silica (crystalline)
Herbicide production Polychlorophenols and their sodium salts
Hospitals Ethylene oxide
Iron and steel founding Formaldehyde; Metal fumes; PAHs; Silica (crystalline)
Isopropanol manufacture, strong-acid process Diisopropyl sulfate; Isopropyl oils; Sulfuric acid
Jewellers Beryllium and beryllium compounds
Leather manufacturing including tanning Polychlorophenols and their sodium salts, Chromium (VI) compounds
Magenta manufacture Magenta; 4,4´-Methylene bis(2-methylaniline); ortho-Nitrotoluene; ortho-Toluidine
Manufacture of pottery, paper, paint and cosmetics Talc containing asbestiform fibres
Metal degreasing Tetrachloroethylene; Trichloroethylene
Metals industry Strong-inorganic mists containing sulfuric acid
Mineral processing Acrylamide
Miners (including underground) Cobalt and cobalt compounds; X- radiation, gamma-radiation
Mining and milling Asbestos
Mining of ores containing arsenic Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Nickel refining and smelting; Welding Nickel and nickel compounds; Welding fumes
Nonferrous metal smelting Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Nuclear industry; Clean-up workers following nuclear accidents Beryllium and beryllium compounds; X- radiation, gamma-radiation
Outdoor workers Solar radiation
Paint stripping; Cleaning and degreasing Dichloromethane (methylene chloride); 1,2,3-Trichloropropane
Perfume preparation; Epoxy resin formulations; Styrene glycol production; Manufacture of cosmetics, surface coatings, agricultural and biological chemicals Styrene-7,8-oxide
Petroleum refining and distribution Acrylamide; PAHs; Benzene; Diesel fuel, marine; Fuel oils, residual (heavy); Gasoline
Pharmaceutical production Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
Plastics industries Acetaldehyde; Acetamide; Acrylonitrile; Ethyl acrylate; Isoprene; Special purpose glass fibres (respirable); Styrene; Vinyl acetate
Plating and engraving; Lithography; Photography Chromium (VI) compounds
Plutonium workers X-radiation, gamma-radiation
Polyester resin manufacture; Production of packaging materials and fibreglass-reinforced polyester Styrene
Printing processes Inks; Solvents
Processing of copper and nickel ore Cobalt and cobalt compounds
Production and use of resins, glycerin and propylene-based rubbers Epichlorohydrin
Production of art glass, glass containers, and pressed ware Arsenic; Antimony oxides; Asbestos; Lead; PAHs; Silica (crystalline)
Production of polyvinyl chloride and co-polymers Vinyl chloride
Production, packaging, and use of arsenic-containing pesticides Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Radiologists and technologists; Radium-dial painters X-radiation, gamma-radiation
Sheep dip manufacture Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Sheet-metal workers Asbestos
Shiftwork that involves circadian disruption --
Ship builders Ceramic fibres (refractory; respirable); Toluene diisocyanates
Shipyard workers Asbestos
Stainless-steel welding Chromium (VI) compounds
Steel and lumber industries Acrylamide
Sugar production Acrylamide
Textile manufacturing/industries Acrylonitrile; Textile dust in manufacturing process; Dyes and solvents in dyeing and printing operations; Formaldehyde
Water and wastewater treatment Acrylamide; Chromium (VI) compounds
Wood manufacturing Pentachlorophenol; Polychlorophenols and their sodium salts
Wood preservation Chromium (VI) compounds; Pentachlorophenol
Wool fibre production Arsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Workers in bars and restaurants Tobacco smoke

Adapted from:

Boffetta, P, et al. Current perspectives on occupational cancer risks. International journal of occupational and environmental health, Vol. 1, no. 4 (1995). p. 315-325

Carex: Most Common Occupational Exposures to IARC Agents - Ontario/British Columbia, Canada 2001 Census Data - 09-Jan-08

Occupational Medicine Clinical Update - Occupational Carcinogens - What makes it on the list. Fall 2005 - Occupational Health Workers for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW)

Siemiatycki, J, et al. Listing occupational carcinogens. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, no. 15 (2004). p. 1447-1459

Document last updated on October 3, 2016


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.