Cancer is the abnormal or uncontrolled growth of new cells in any part of the body, characterized by cells that tend to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to new body sites.
Carcinogens are chronic toxins. They cause damage after repeated or long-duration exposure. They may have not immediate apparent harmful effects, with cancer developing only after a long latency period.
Epidemiological studies determine the relationship between a cancer suspect chemical and a human population over a long period of time.
Animal studies directly induce cancer in test animals using a large sample of animals, usually of two or more species with varying dose and time parameters.
Experiments with animals are based on the premise that chemicals that produce cancer in animals will have similar effects on human cells. Most known human carcinogens produce cancer in experimental animals.
Any substance that is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen.
It is listed under the category “know to be carcinogens” in the Annual Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).
It is listed under Group 1 (“carcinogenic to humans”) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
It is listed in either Group 2A (“limited evidence of carcinogenicity” from human studies) or 2B (“sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity” from animal studies) by IARC or under the category “reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens by NTP. (A specified dose range is given.)
Which classes of chemicals tend to be carcinogens?
Respiratory protection--dust masks, respirators. Respirators are primarily for use in non-lab areas, except for emergency response (spill cleanup)--shops, floor stripping, construction operations (painting).
Eye protection--safety glasses, splash goggles, face shields.
No smoking, eating, drinking or application of cosmetics is permitted in areas where carcinogens are in use (or in any lab area!). No mouth pipetting!
Wash hands and any exposed skin if potentially contaminated--face, neck, forearms, etc.
No shorts or open toed shoes.
Remove lab coat or other potentially contaminated protective clothing before leaving the work area. Lab coats need to be cleaned regularly; special washing instructions may be needed. Contaminated disposable clothing should be treated as hazardous waste
All containers of chemical carcinogens need to have a warning label affixed to them. A Right-to-Know (RTK) style label must be on any container of material that is repackaged or made into a solution more than 0.1%.
All areas where carcinogens may be used, present or stored should have prominently displayed warning signs or labels both in the areas and access to them.. Some warning signs and labels are described by specific standards. “DANGER--Contains ___________ CANCER HAZARD”
Material Safety Data Sheets and other information.
Training--all employees using carcinogens must be trained in the recognition of the physical and health hazards associated with the carcinogens they are working with, methods to detect the presence or release of a carcinogen and ways to protect themselves from exposure to the carcinogens with which they are working.
Specialized training may be required for specific carcinogens.
With very few exceptions (dilute formaldehyde solutions) carcinogens may never be discharged to the sanitary sewer.
Carcinogens may never be disposed of in the ordinary trash.
Waste bottles must be properly labeled, tightly capped at all times (except when adding or removing waste) and they must have secondary containment. See section 7.9-11 of the CHP for waste bottle labeling instructions. Check “Poison” on the waste label.
Dry wastes must be incinerated or shipped out as regulated medical waste (“chemotheraputic agents”).
How do I reduce my inventory and level of waste generation?
Plan the use of carcinogens carefully. Do not make more stock solutions than are required.
Substitute less hazardous materials for carcinogens whenever possible; toluene instead of benzene.
Purchase carcinogens in the smallest possible quantities.
Do not allow inventories to accumulate. Place no longer needed materials in a recycling program or dispose of as waste.
Detoxify carcinogens as part of your research protocols. Formaldehyde is easily detoxified by NH 4 OH, for example.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) “relevant to safety and health considerations” need to be developed when carcinogens are in use. An SOP may be developed for an individual carcinogen, a process or a class of chemicals.
An SOP must contain the following: The name and location of the chemical, purchasing and usage authorization, training requirements, location of use, PPE required, methods of waste disposal, decontamination, first aid measures, spill control, emergency phone numbers and any other relevant information.
Employees must be trained in the content of the SOP.