Reducing occupational exposure to chemical carcinogens

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Strategies for controlling occupational exposure to chemical carcinogens are set out in the European Union Carcinogens Directive and in national legislation such as the British Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. While such legislative requirements must apply to all occupational chemical carcinogens, it is argued that priority should be given to controlling those agents that contribute most to the cancer burden. Examples of possible strategies to reduce exposure to two agents (diesel exhaust particulate and paint emissions) are discussed. It is concluded that there are no real technical difficulties in controlling exposures to chemical carcinogens; however, for many of the key agents, we need to change attitudes to the potential risks and clearly demonstrate to employers and employees how to reduce the exposures.

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