Be safe at work

Cancer-causing substances at work are responsible for a small percentage of cancers. Know your risk and protect yourself.

Your work environment may expose you to harmful chemicals or radiation that are linked to cancer. These cancer-causing substances are called carcinogens. Scientific evidence tells us that being exposed to carcinogens on the job is responsible for a small percentage of cancers.

Since higher exposure means greater cancer risk, the most important thing you can do to prevent cancer is to avoid being around these harmful substances – or reduce the time you’re around them.

Find out what you can do to protect yourself at work, and learn more about what kind of substances are harmful to your health.

Protect yourself

Governments, employers and employees must all do their part to reduce exposure to carcinogens in workplaces.


Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral used in construction and other industries because it is durable and resists high heat. Exposure to asbestos is highest for people who work with it.
A man is standing in an industrial workplace putting on personal protective equipment


Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used in various industries and as a preservative and disinfectant. People who are exposed to formaldehyde at work have higher levels of exposure than people who may be exposed in their homes.


Radiation is energy that travels through space in the form of waves or particles. There are 2 types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing. Exposure varies by type of radiation.

Sun and UV

UV rays are a source of non-ionizing radiation. Outdoor workers are at greater risk of developing skin cancer than indoor workers.

Shift work and the circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm is the body’s internal clock. If you have a job or schedule that disrupts your sleep and wake hours, it’s hard on your body and may increase your risk of health concerns.


Pesticides are chemicals used to kill or control insects, plants, animals or other pests. Occupations like farmers and golf course workers use pesticides in their work.