Study finds increased risk of bladder cancer for workers in certain occupations

A discussion on the importance of fume extraction in the workplace 

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This year, an estimated 74,000 adults will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in the United States. It is estimated that 16,000 deaths from this disease will occur this year. Chemicals, particularly those used in the textile, rubber, leather, dye, paint, and print industries, and aromatic amines can increase the risk of bladder cancer.1

A recent study2 sought to review and analyze contemporary risks of occupational bladder cancer. Some of the findings include:

  • Increased incidence of bladder cancer in 42 of 61 occupational classes.
  • Increased bladder cancer-specific mortality in 16 of 40 occupational classes.
  • Overall, the highest bladder cancer risks were for workers exposed to aromatic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
  • The highest rates of mortality occurred in workers exposed to heavy metals, PAHs, and aromatic amines.
  • The profile of at-risk occupations is changing and affecting women more than men.

A look deeper into these exposures

There is a broad range of occupations and workplaces where respiratory hazards and known carcinogens are present.

  • Aromatic Amines – A class of chemicals found in plastic and chemical industries as byproducts of the manufacturing compounds such as polyurethane foams, dyes, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and semiconductors.3
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – A group of chemicals naturally occurring in coal, crude oil and gasoline. Occupational exposure to PAHs can occur if you work at a coal tar, aluminum, or asphalt production plant; smokehouse; foundry; engine repair shop; trash incinerator; coal gasification site; or farm where agricultural burning and pesticide application takes place. You can also be exposed if you work in coking, mining, gas or oil refining, metalworking, chemical production, iron or steel production, wood preserving, coal tarring, roofing, transportation, cooking or catering, and the electrical industry.4
  • Heavy Metals – Toxic metals, including “heavy metals,” are individual metals and metal compounds that negatively affect people’s health.5 Examples include arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, and mercury. Occupational exposure to toxic heavy metals can occur during the manufacturing of aluminum abrasives, allows, powder, and products; using aluminum abrasives in industrial operations; aluminum welding; synthetic leather manufacturing; and in the paper, glass, porcelain, and textile industries.6

Methods to reduce worker exposure

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There are several recommendations provided by health and safety agencies to help reduce worker exposure to hazardous airborne contaminants like the ones listed above. A few of the recommendations are:

  • Replace the hazard with safer alternative
  • Reduce the amount of hazard used
  • Reduce the amount of time workers are exposed to the hazard
  • Use local exhaust ventilation
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with the hazard
  • Train workers on how to properly handle, store and dispose of the hazard

When hazard replacement or substitution isn’t an option, it is important to implement multiple engineering safety controls to reduce exposure.

Wearing PPE works well for protecting the worker’s body, but consideration should be given to cleansing the surrounding air of these contaminants. If overlooked, this air can travel throughout a building and pose health hazards to other workers.

Local Exhaust Ventilation

Cleansing the air goes beyond changing AC filters and using fans to blow air around. In order to properly capture and filter contaminants, it is best to trap them at the source of emission.

High quality HEPA filters work to capture particulate (i.e. fume, smoke, dust, and powders) while carbon filters are often used to adsorb odors, chemical molecules, and vapor.

When you combine source-capture fume extractors equipped with HEPA and carbon filtration, with ambient air filtration, the overall quality of the air is improved, hazardous airborne contaminants are reduced, and you may even see an increase in production due to fewer breaks and headaches complaints.


Sentry Air Systems

As a designer and manufacturer of air filtration systems, Sentry Air Systems works directly with customers to provide a highly efficient, cost effective solution to capturing respiratory containments. From welding shops and chemical laboratories to manufacturing plants and universities, Sentry Air Systems is able to provide off-the-shelf, semi-custom and custom air filtration solutions.

The photo collage below is snippets from our website product gallery page. As you can see, Sentry Air Systems offers an extensive line of source-capture and ambient air filtration systems in a variety of sizes and configurations.


Contact Sentry Air

If your occupation or workplace could benefit from source capture or ambient air filtration, contact a Sentry Air Systems sales representative at 800.799.4609, email, visit our website or fill out the feedback form below.