Linking Occupational Respiratory Cancers and Smoking-September 2013

Monthly Round Up of Important Ideas and Standards in
Industrial Hygiene and Safety 

September 2013

IN THIS ISSUE: Linking Occupational Respiratory Cancers and Smoking

Construction, mining, and manufacturing may expose workers to lung carcinogens that put them at greater risk of contracting lung cancer than ordinary employees. Of these workers, those who smoke are at a much greater risk of contracting the disease. 

Various substances found in the workplace are known or suspected lung carcinogens, and these carcinogens have a compounding effect on those who smoke. Known or suspected lung carcinogens include:

  • Asbestos: Although no longer manufactured in the U.S., employees who disturb deteriorating in-place asbestos may be exposed. Products from some foreign countries may contain asbestos.
  • Hazardous Metals
    • Arsenic found in smelting operations and in the use of pesticides
    • Beryllium
    • Chromium found in chromate coatings and alloys such as stainless steel
    • Iron used the mining and manufacture of steel and steel welding operations 
    • Nickel found in welding and manufacturing processes that use stainless steel or nickel alloys
  • Organic Compounds
    • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in processes that burn coal, oil, gas, or charbroiled meat, various coal related products and processes that use coal
    • Asphalt
    • Benzo(a)pyrene cutting oils used in machining operations 
    • Isopropyl Alcohol in its manufacturing process.
  • Ionizing Radiation: Workers in health care facilities, research institutions, nuclear weapon production facilities, non-destructive testing and various manufacturing settings may be exposed.

As with any hazardous chemical, it is important to identify chemicals in the workplace that are known or suspected carcinogens. These chemicals may be listed on the Safety Data Sheet for the particular product. If possible, a non-carcinogenic alternative should be used. Controls should be in place to reduce worker exposure below occupational exposure limits. Employees must be informed and educated about the carcinogens in the workplace and how they can limit their exposure. Most importantly, the relationship between workplace carcinogens and smoking to lung cancer and how to reduce the overall risk must be emphasized.

Over the years the publicity about smoking and cancer, legal settlements with cigarette manufacturers, efforts by industry to restrict smoking at work, and other measures have reduced the number of smokers and the incidence of lung cancer. By educating employees about the relationship between smoking and workplace carcinogens, lung cancer may be further reduced. For more information on this topic and to discuss your company’s safety and industrial hygiene needs call OccuSafe at (214) 662-6005 or contact us at

OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety, Inc. provides skills and expertise to recognize, evaluate and control hazards and injuries in the areas of industrial hygiene, occupational safety and health.   OccuSafe services companies of all sizes in a range of industries.

This newsletter is published monthly by OccuSafe Industrial Hygiene & Safety Services, Inc. Feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

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