Would you even know if your job exposes you to carcinogens?


Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases anyone can have. The National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer are two of the agencies that evaluate substances for carcinogenic classification. While most people know which substances in everyday life pose cancer risks, many are unaware of the carcinogens that threaten their health in their workplaces.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health mandates that your employer must inform you and your co-workers of all the hazards and potential hazards of your job. Furthermore, your employer must establish measures to mitigate known threats that could harm your safety and health.

Are you exposed to any of the following carcinogens?

Awareness of the dangers in your workplace is crucial. Cancer develops over time, and if you were unaware of exposure to a carcinogen, you might not know that you could possibly seek financial relief through the California workers’ compensation system. The following are carcinogens commonly present in specific workplaces:

  • Lead: Pipes, pipe solder and paints typically contain lead, posing risks to auto repair workers, artists and construction workers, among others.
  • Asbestos: A naturally occurring mineral often used in heat-resistant products, older buildings, building materials and certain textiles.
  • Cadmium: Used in battery production and also present as pigments for protective coatings on electronics, aluminum and steel.
  • Crystalline silica: Present in soil, sand and rock, and in dust form, workers in mining and rock-cutting inhale the fine particles.
  • Benzene: Used in manufacturing of lubricants, rubber, dyes, pesticides, drugs and detergents. Also present in cigarette smoke and gasoline.
  • Radioactive elements and ionizing radiation: Emitted by nuclear sources such as nuclear power plants, and also by X-rays.
  • Formaldehyde: Present in the manufacturing process of wood products, resins, textiles and plastics, and in embalming fluid.
  • Wood dust: Wood-cutting and sanding produce carcinogenic dust.
  • Nickel: Present in dental and surgical prostheses, spark plugs, electrical contacts, magnets and batteries, and also used in the manufacturing of stainless steel.
  • Chromium: This substance is most hazardous in its hexavalent form, which occurs during industrial processes to manufacture stainless steel, and the welding of chromium-containing metal also releases hexavalent.

These are only 10 of the hundreds of carcinogens in the world around you. Understanding what carcinogens are and whether they form part of the hazards that threaten your safety in your workplace will allow you to take your own precautions.

If you have had exposure to carcinogens in your workplace, it is essential to have frequent health evaluations, and it is crucial to inform your physician of the carcinogen exposure at your work. Having medical records can be invaluable if you do develop cancer and have to prove that it is work-related. This could be a complicated process unless you utilize the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Legal counsel can advocate for you in dealing with the California workers’ compensation insurance program.

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