Learn about carcinogens in your environment

Does your environment put you at risk for cancer?

It’s very hard to say how many cancers are related to substances (chemicals, materials, matter) found in our environment. These substances are known as carcinogens. Most of the research on carcinogens in the environment has been done on groups of people who were around them in their workplaces. These people often have greater exposure to carcinogens than people who are exposed to them at home or in the community.

It’s often hard to be sure how much a person has been exposed to any one substance to know whether it causes cancer. Different people are exposed to different substances for different lengths of time and at different levels. Sometimes people may not know what they’re being exposed to carcinogens. And if a person is around more than one carcinogen, the combination may increase their risk more than each one alone.

What the research does suggest is that you have a higher risk of developing certain cancers if your environment has very high levels of carcinogens.

3 smart ways to reduce your exposure to carcinogens

You can avoid carcinogens or reduce the time you are around them.
Be informed.

To learn about what may be harmful, check out our list of environmental concerns and chemicals in the workplace. You’ll also find out how to reduce your exposure or protect yourself when you’re around carcinogens.

Make safer decisions.

For example, avoid idling your vehicle, or dig out weeds at their roots instead of using pesticides.

Follow safety instructions when using, storing and disposing of harmful materials or chemicals.

Read and carefully follow the manufacturers’ directions for safely using and storing hazardous chemicals at home and at work.

How much do you know about the risks in your environment?