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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in IARC

Posted by on in Centers of Excellence
In early 2017, a group of scientists met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France to evaluate the carcinogenicity of welding fume. This evaluation included a review of relevant exposure data, studies of cancer in humans, studies of cancer in experimental animals, toxicokinetic data, and information on disease in susceptible populations. Based on this review, the IARC working group determined that  “sufficient evidence” exists that welding fume is a human lung carcinogen (Group 1) (Lancet 2017). Previously, IARC had classified welding fume as being “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B) based on available data at the time that the mixture was evaluated in 1989 (IARC 1990).

A complicating factor in reclassifying welding fume is its complexity. Generally, welding fume is a mixture of metal fumes (i.e., iron, manganese, chromium, nickel, silicon, titanium) and gases (i.e., carbon monoxide, ozone, argon, carbon dioxide). Welding fume can contain varying concentrations of individual components that are classified as human carcinogens, including hexavalent chromium and nickel. However, the presence of such metals and the intensity of exposure to each differ significantly according to a number of variables, including the type of welding technique used and the composition of the base metal and consumable (IARC 1990). Nonetheless, IARC did not differentiate between these variables in its decision.

What actions should be taken as a results of IARC’s reclassification? 

1.       Update hazard communication programs to include information regarding welding fume now being classified as a Group 1 carcinogen.

2.       Update exposure assessments for welding fume, including both for welders and nearby workers who are not engaged in welding. Given that NIOSH guidance for carcinogens aims to keep exposures as low as feasible, documenting and characterizing the potential for exposures to bystanders such as welder helpers, fire watches, or workers located adjacent to welding operations is especially important.

3.       Develop similar exposure groups (SEGs) based on the exposure assessment, and determine appropriate control measures.

Cardno ChemRisk scientists have measured and assessed workplace and environmental exposures to numerous compounds, including welding fume, and have performed historical dose reconstructions or cumulative estimates of excess cancer risk in numerous occupational settings. In addition, Cardno ChemRisk scientists have experience deriving internal occupational exposure limits based on available toxicological data. If you have any questions, or would like more information about our environmental health and safety capabilities, please contact William Cyrs, CIH, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence

On October 26, 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), announced a monograph declaring processed meats, such as bacon, sausage and hot dogs, as a Group 1 (carcinogenic to humans) carcinogen, and red meat as a Group 2A (probably carcinogenic to humans) carcinogen. The committee based their classification on an evaluation of over 800 epidemiological studies that investigated the association of cancer with red meat or processed meat consumption in multiple countries.

IARC’s classification “indicates the weight of the evidence as to whether an agent is capable of causing cancer" (technically called “hazard”), but it does not measure the likelihood that cancer will occur (technically called “risk”) as a result of exposure to the agent.” Therefore, although IARC places processed meats in the same group as smoking, it does not mean they increase cancer risk equally. For perspective, IARC explained that processed meats contribute to about 34,000 cancer deaths worldwide, whereas 1 million cancer deaths due to tobacco smoking occur per year globally. Based on an analysis of data from 10 studies, IARC estimated that eating 50 grams of processed meat (this corresponds to approximately 1.8 oz or the equivalent of one hot dog) daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Notably, as suggested in a recent Q&A posted by NPR, the risk of colorectal cancer is already relatively low and dieticians have long recommended eating less red meat and processed foods.

Potential Regulatory Implications

California’s Proposition 65 maintains a list of chemicals known to cause cancer and requires a warning of exposure to listed chemicals to consumers. Earlier this year, OEHHA changed its Prop 65 regulations without voter’s authorization to list substances, as well as chemicals, known to cause cancer, including those classified by IARC as Group 1 and Group 2A. Thus, in response to IARC’s classification of processed and red meats, OEHHA may give notice to add processed and red meats to the Prop 65 list, requiring warnings on packaging for these products. More information on the potential regulatory implications this IARC classification may have on Prop 65 can be found here.

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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence

Posted on behalf of the author, Derek Drechsel

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Posted by on in Centers of Excellence

Posted on behalf of the author, Derek Drechsel

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Posted by on in Epidemiology
June of 2012 became a milestone in occupational and environmental health when the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) upgraded their cancer classification of diesel engine exhaust (DEE) from "probable" to "known" human carcinogen. The evidence rating had been stalled at "probable" due to confounding effects of cigarette smoking in the available epidemiology studies finding a link between DEE exposure and a small increase in lung cancer risk. This change in evidence was clearly orchestrated and funded in large part by NIOSH between 2009 and 2012 when government funding of research seemed to otherwise be at an all-time low. Also unusual was the fact that the key studies by NIOSH were published simultaneously with the IARC upgrade decision in June, leaving no time for the underlying science to be critiqued. The orchestrated appearance of this move has the odor of political influence using the 'back door' pathway through IARC. In other words, U.S. interests may be able to more easily convince European scientists that such a regulatory status change is approprite, and this change ultimately tracks back to regulatory decisions in the United States. A similar path was perhaps followed when IARC designated dioxin as a known human carcinogen despite their agreement that the epidemiologic data to prove that was "limited." Regardless of the road traveled to get DEE to its new 'known human carcinogen' status, this change may have sweeping implications on regulation and litigation of air pollution in the United States. DEE exposures are widespread and the liability may be traced to diverse emission sources from the burning of diesel in virtually every aspect of industry and commerce. I recently presented a technical information webinar on the key considerations and underlying scientific studies behind the IARC decision if you would like to learn more.
Tagged in: carcinogen diesel IARC
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