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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.

Occupations or Occupational Groups
Associated with Carcinogen Exposure
Occupations and Occupational Groups Suspect Substance
Aircraft and aerospace industries Beryllium and beryllium compounds; Ceramic fibres (refractory; aspirable); 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 & shoe manufacture/repair Leather dust, benzene & 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 & joinery; Furniture & cabinet making Wood dust
Ceramic production Cobalt and cobalt compounds
Chemical and rubber industries Aromatic amines; 1,3-Butadiene
Chemical industry Acrylamide
Chromate production plants; Chromium ferro-alloy production Chromium (VI) compounds
Coal gasification, coke production Coal tar, coal-tar fumes; PAHs
Construction, Insulation and maintenance workers Asbestos; Glass wool
Dry cleaning Tetrachloroethylene; Trichloroethylene
Dyes and pigments 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-resistance) Ceramic fibres (refractory; aspirable)
Furnace insulators Ceramic fibres (refractory; aspirable)
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
Herbicide production Polychlorophenols and their sodium salts
Hospitals Acrylamide; Ethylene oxide
Iron and steel founding Formaldehyde; Metal fumes; PAHs; Silica
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; Ionizing radiation
Mining and milling Asbestos
Mining of ores containing arsenic Arsenic and arsenic compounds
Nickel refining and smelting; Welding Nickel and nickel compounds
Nonferrous metal smelting Arsenic and arsenic compounds
Nuclear industries clean-up workers following nuclear accidents Beryllium and beryllium compounds; Ionizing radiation
Outdoor workers Solar radiation
Painters (construction, automotive industry and other users) Not identified; Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
Paint stripping; Cleaning and degreasing 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 Acrylamide; PAHs
Pharmaceutical production Dichloromethane (methylene chloride)
Plastics industries Ceramic fibres (refractory; aspirable); Styrene
Plating and engraving; Lithography; Photography Chromium (VI) compounds
Plutonium workers Ionizing 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 Ceramic fibres (refractory, aspirable); Dichloromethane (methylene chloride); Glass wool; Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Styrene-7,8-oxide; Tetrachloroethylene; Trichloroethylene
Production and use of resins, glycerine and propylene-based rubbers Epichlorohydrin
Production of art glass, glass containers, and pressed ware Arsenic; Antimony oxides; Asbestos; Lead; PAHs; Silica
Production of polyvinyl chloride and co-polymers; Refrigerant (before 1974) Vinyl chloride
Production, packaging, and use of arsenic-containing pesticides Arsenic and arsenic compounds
Radiologists and technologists; Radium-dial painters Ionizing radiation

Sheep dip manufacture

Arsenic and arsenic compounds
Sheet-metal workers Asbestos
Shiftwork that involves circadian disruption --
Ship builders Ceramic fibres (refractory; aspirable)
Shipyard workers Asbestos
Stainless-steel welding Chromium (VI) compounds
Steel and lumber industries Acrylamide
Sugar production Acrylamide
Textile manufacturing/industries Acrylamide; Ceramic fibres (refractory, aspirable); Polychlorophenols and their sodium salts; Styrene-7,8-oxide; Textile dust in manufacturing process; Dyes and solvents in dyeing and printing operation
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 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 March 3, 2008


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