Occupations, Occupational Groups, or Industries Associated with Carcinogen Exposures

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

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Examples of occupations and occupational groups that are more likely to be exposed to cancer risk are listed in the table below.

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, Occupational Groups, or IndustryExamples of suspect cancer causing agent(s) or substance(s)
Accommodation and food services, healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, trade, and otherWork at night (including rotating and night shift work)
Acheson processSilica, silicon carbide
Aircraft and aerospace industriesAsbestos, beryllium and beryllium compounds; ceramic fibres (refractory; respirable), chromates, ionizing radiation, mixed solvents, shift work
Aluminum productionAromatic amines; pitch volatiles
Asbestos cement industryAsbestos
Auramine manufactureAuramine; 2-naphthylamine; pigments
Automotive repair and maintenanceAsbestos, beryllium and beryllium compounds, ceramic fibres (refractory; respirable); diesel engine exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), welding fumes
Battery production workersCadmium and cadmium compounds, lead compounds
Beryllium extraction, processing, and production of beryllium compoundsBeryllium and beryllium compounds
Boot and shoe manufacture/repairLeather dust, benzene and other solvents
Bus and truck drivers; Dock workers; Filling station attendants; Mechanics; Operators of excavating machines; Professional drivers; Railroad workers; Transport industryDiesel engine exhaust
Butchers and meat workersViruses, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Cadmium-copper alloy workers; Cadmium-smelter workersCadmium and cadmium compounds
Carbon electrode manufacturingPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Carpentry and joinery; Furniture and cabinet makingWood dust
Ceramic production and pottery workers, glazersCobalt and cobalt compounds; silica
Chemical and rubber industriesAromatic amines; 1,3-butadiene; isoprene
Chemical industryAcetamide; acrylamide; benzene
Chromate production plants; Chromium ferro-alloy productionChromium (VI) compounds
Coal gasification, coke productionCoal tar, coal-tar fumes; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Construction; Insulation and maintenance workersAsbestos; beryllium and beryllium compounds, bitumens, diesel engine exhaust; glass wool; lead and lead compounds (inorganic); silica (crystalline); toluene diisocyanates, solar radiation, wood dust
Dry cleaningSolvents such as carbon tetrachloride; tetrachloroethylene; trichloroethylene
Dye and pigment productionAromatic amines (e.g., 2-naphthylamine, 4-aminobiphenyl, ortho-toluidine); benzidine; cadmium and cadmium compounds; chromium (VI) compounds
Electrical capacitor manufacturingPolychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Electronic production/industriesBeryllium and beryllium compounds; dichloromethane (methylene chloride); chromic acid, silica (crystalline), ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, sulfuric acid
Electroplating processesCadmium and cadmium compounds, chromium VI
FirefightersPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Furnace insulatorsCeramic fibres (refractory; respirable)
Furniture and cabinet makersWood dust
Furniture restorersDichloromethane (methylene chloride)
Glass production workersArsenic and antimony oxides, asbestos, cobalt and cobalt compounds, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), silica 
Hairdressers & barbersAerosols, dyes (aromatic amines, amino-phenols with hydrogen peroxide); propellants; solvents
Hematite mining; Uranium minersRadon daughters; silica (crystalline)
Herbicide productionPolychlorophenols and their sodium salts
HospitalsEthylene oxide
Iron, steel, and ferro-alloy manufacturing, followed by other fabricated metal product manufacturing and building finishing contractorCeramic fibres (refractory; respirable)
Iron and steel foundingFormaldehyde; silica (crystalline), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chromium and nickel compounds, use of organic binder materials results in exposure to phenol, formaldehyde, isocyanates, and various amines
Isopropanol manufacture, strong-acid processIsopropyl oils; propylene, diisopropyl sulfate, strong inorganic mist containing sulfuric acid
JewellersBeryllium and beryllium compounds
Leather goods manufacturing including tanningBenzidinde-based dyes, benzene, formaldehyde, leather dust, polychlorophenols and their sodium salts, chromium (VI) compounds
Magenta manufactureMagenta; 4,4-methylene bis(2-methylaniline); ortho-nitrotoluene; ortho-toluidine
Manufacture of pottery, paper, paint, rubber, roofing, fertilizers, animal feed, and cosmeticsTalc containing asbestiform fibres
Metal degreasingTetrachloroethylene; trichloroethylene
Metal processing, lead-acid battery manufacturing, potato harvesting, manufacturing of chemicals, drugs, and ryon; oil refiningStrong-inorganic mists containing sulfuric acid
Mineral processingAcrylamide
Miners (including underground)Cobalt and cobalt compounds; x-radiation, gamma-radiation
Mining and millingAsbestos
Mining of ores containing arsenicArsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Nickel refining and smelting; WeldingNickel and nickel compounds; welding fumes
Nonferrous metal smeltingArsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Nuclear industry; clean-up workers following nuclear accidentsBeryllium and beryllium compounds; x-radiation, gamma-radiation
Outdoor workersSolar radiation
Paint stripping; Cleaning and degreasingDichloromethane (methylene chloride); 1,2,3-trichloropropane
Perfume preparation; Epoxy resin formulations; Styrene glycol production; Manufacture of cosmetics, surface coatings, agricultural and biological chemicalsStyrene-7,8-oxide
Petroleum refining and distribution

Acetaldehyde, asbestos, benzene, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde (gas), fuels that contain carcinogens (e.g., leaded gasoline), fuel oils residual (heavy), hydrazine, metal welding fumes, lead and lead compounds, nickel oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), silica, vanadium oxides

Pharmaceutical productionAniline, antineoplastic drugs, 2,4-diaminoanisole, ortho-anisidine and salt para-anisidine, dichloromethane (methylene chloride), N-nitrosodimethylamine
Pickling operationsInorganic acid mists containing sulphuric acid
Plastics industriesAcetaldehyde; formaldehyde, acrylamide, acetamide; acrylonitrile; ethyl acrylate; isoprene; special purpose glass fibres (respirable); styrene; vinyl acetate, vinyl chloride, o-toluidine, aniline, and nitrobenzene
Plating and engraving; Lithography; PhotographyChromium (VI) compounds
Plutonium workersX-radiation, gamma-radiation
Polyester resin manufacture; Production of packaging materials and fibreglass-reinforced polyesterStyrene
Printing processesPigments such as carbon black, titanium dioxide, lead chromate, lead compounds, cadmium and compounds, anthraquinone based dyes
Processing of copper and nickel oreCobalt and cobalt compounds
Production and use of resins, glycerin and propylene-based rubbersEpichlorohydrin
Production of art glass, glass containers, and pressed wareArsenic; antimony oxides; asbestos; lead; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); silica (crystalline)
Production of polyvinyl chloride and co-polymersVinyl chloride
Production, packaging, and use of arsenic-containing pesticidesArsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Radiologists and technologists; radium-dial paintersX-radiation, gamma-radiation
Railroad workers, filling station attendants, bus and truck drivers, operators of excavating machinesDiesel engine exhaust
Roofers, asphalt workersPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Rubber manufacturingAromatic amines; solvents
Sheep dip manufactureArsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Sheet-metal workersAsbestos
Shiftwork that involves circadian disruption--
Ship buildersCeramic fibres (refractory; respirable); toluene diisocyanates
Shipyard workersAsbestos
Stainless-steel weldingChromium (VI) compounds
Steel and lumber industriesAcrylamide
Synthetic latex production, tire curing, calendering* operatives, reclaim, cable makers
*calendering is a finishing process used on cloth
Aromatic amines
Sugar productionAcrylamide
Textile manufacturing/industriesAcrylonitrile; textile dust in manufacturing process; dyes and solvents in dyeing and printing operations; formaldehyde
Vineyard workers using arsenic insecticidesArsenic compounds, ultraviolet (UV) radiation
Water and wastewater treatmentAcrylamide; chromium (VI) compounds
Wood manufacturingPentachlorophenol; polychlorophenols and their sodium salts
Wood preservationChromium (VI) compounds; pentachlorophenol
Wool fibre productionArsenic and inorganic arsenic compounds
Workers in bars and restaurantsTobacco 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:  Carcinogen Profiles (various).  

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

International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2023. List of Classifications: Agents classified by the IARC Monographs.  As viewed on February 27, 2023

Occupational Cancer Research Centre. Burden of occupational cancer in Canada: Major workplace carcinogens and prevention of exposure. Toronto, ON: 2019


  • Fact sheet last revised: 2023-04-13