Can I get Cancer from Chemical Exposure?

Certain chemicals are carcinogens (potentially cancerous) and are part of our every-day lives

Most of us are oblivious to their potential harmful effects on our health.

Pink cells (normal) white cells (showing division)

Every year – the death toll rises from carcinogenic – related disease such as lung cancer and mesothelioma; from inhaling these toxic chemicals and substances. Many people who are working with occupational carcinogens are not only unaware of how dangerous they are, but do not realise that they can cause cancer. For instance, although asbestos is no longer used widely – up to 3,000 people a year are dying from asbestos related disease, and it is estimated that these figures will continue up until 2020!

Carcinogens do not always cause cancer, as length and type of exposure, and genetic predisposition will determine whether you develop the disease


The most common cancer causing carcinogens such as –  nicotine (from tobacco smoke), solar rays (sunburn/sunbeds) could be avoided if people stopped smoking and  sun-worshipping. Less common carcinogens are from an occupational source and effects those who work with them for a duration of time. I.e. Exposure to the radioactive gas ‘radon’, which is released from soil, increases the risk of lung cancer. The most common types of occupational cancer are lung cancer, bladder cancer, and mesothelioma.

List of carcinogens:

  • Arsenic and arsenic compounds
  • Nicotine
  • Asbestos (from inhalation)
  • Azathioprine
  • Benzene
  • Beryllium and beryllium compounds
  • N,N-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-2-naphthylamine (Chlornaphazine)
  • Bis(chloromethyl)ether and chloromethyl methyl ether (technical-grade)
  • 1,3-Butadiene
  • Cadmium and cadmium compounds
  • Chlorambucil
  • Chromium
  • Ciclosporin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Diethylstilbestrol
  • Dyes ‘metabolized to benzidine’
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Ethanol in (alcoholic beverages0
  • Ethylene oxide
  • Etoposide (in combination with cisplatin and bleomycin)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Gallium arsenide
  • [Gamma Radiation: see X- and Gamma (g)-Radiation]
  • Melphalan
  • 8-Methoxypsoralen (Methoxsalen) plus ultraviolet A radiation
  • Methylenebis(chloroaniline)
  • MOPP and other combined chemotherapy including alkylating agents
  • Mustard Gas
  • 2-Naphthylamine
  • Neutrons
  • Nickel compounds
  • Phosphorus-32, as phosphate
  • Plutonium-239
  • Radium
  • Silica, crystalline (inhaled in the form of quartz or cristobalite /occupational source)
  • Solar radiation
  • Talc (containing asbestiform fibres)
  • Vinyl chloride X- and Gamma (g)-radiation

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