New tool links jobs, chemicals to increased risk of breast cancer

New research that brings together information on workplace chemicals of concern for breast cancer and the likelihood of widespread exposure reveals the need for more research AND action.

The study, published in the journal New Solutions, was led by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco with a team of occupational and public health specialists. Research is an important addition to the health studies that have historically under-represented women. It provides support to those calling for a more systematic collection of data on occupational exposure to chemicals. More importantly, the study and its related data tool provide essential information for researchers, policy makers, and workers and their representatives in the pursuit of occupational cancer prevention efforts.

Linking Jobs and Chemicals of Concern

For this study, the researchers attempted to identify and categorize two things:
1) occupations that employ women in California and
2) Workplace chemicals related to breast cancer.

Draw data from American Community Survey researchers (2010 to 2014) selected 145 professions representing more than 6.6 million women, or 85 percent of working women in California. Sixteen other occupations for informal workers were selected to ensure representation of domestic workers, agricultural workers, janitors and caretakers and others.

Using existing data, researchers identified 1,012 chemicals of concern for breast cancer including endocrine disruptors (850), mammary gland carcinogens (174) and developmental toxins (108). They then organized them into 25 categories based on chemical properties and / or usage characteristics, with some chemicals falling into more than one category.

In collaboration with industrial hygienists, the researchers also created occupational exposure matrices to assess the likelihood (probable, possible, unlikely) of occupational exposure to categories of chemicals by occupation.

Chemical exposures are widespread

While this latest research does not assess causal links between exposures and disease, it adds to the knowledge of occupational exposure to chemicals of breast cancer concern and identifies gaps for the basis of an exploration. further.

The researchers found:

  • More … than 80 percent of occupations studied had possible or probable exposure at least one category of chemicals
  • Phthalates (many are endocrine disruptors; many are toxic to the development of the mammary glands) were the most common chemical exposure.

To make these results more accessible, especially for workers, the researchers worked with a data visualization company to develop an interactive online tool. With profession and chemical category, the tool allows users to examine and search the data by ethnicity / race and age. Although for Ontario workers, mapping potential chemical exposures by occupation provides the most useful information.

Other exposures also increase the risk

This study builds on previous Canadian research focused on breast cancer risk in relation to occupations exposed to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

Toronto’s Occupational Cancer Research Cancer also identifies other exposures or occupations that may increase breast cancer risk, including ethylene oxide, polychlorinated biphenyls, and shift work that involves circadian disruption.

WHSC can help

The Worker Health and Safety Center (WHSC) can also help prevention efforts in the workplace with quality training and information services. In addition to WHMIS GHS training, our new Chemical hazards program is available through our Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Certification Part II General Component, but he can also be delivered as a stand-alone course to all parts of the workplace.

For workplaces looking to certify their CMSS, we offer legally required JHSC certification training – essential for equip workplace representatives in their efforts to protect workers occupational carcinogens and other workplace hazards. If your workplace employs 20 or more workers or has a designated substance on site, a CMSS is also required. Employers must also ‘complete’ certification training for at least two members of the CMSS, a worker representative and a management representative, including JHSC Certification Part I, JHSC Certification Part II, and JHSC Certification Recall. These programs are offered in safe and convenient WHSC virtual classrooms.

Can’t see what you need? Beyond scheduled courses, and when the number of participants warrants it, we can work with you to coordinate almost all of our training courses for all workers, workplace representatives and supervisors.

Resources related to the CSST:
Flight attendants suffer from cancer at higher rates, new research finds
Exposure to night shift work when you are young increases your risk of breast cancer

Contact a WHSC Training Services representative in your area.
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