Carcinogens

Last Updated: May 22, 2018

Definition - What does Carcinogens mean?

Carcinogens are substances that can either cause cancer directly, or increase the incidence of cancer in humans through exposure. These environmental factors can include chemicals, radiation, UV light, or other polluting agents.

Exposure to carcinogens may happen on workplace sites, in households, during medical treatment, or even because of certain lifestyle habits. Typical routes of exposure include inhalation, absorption through skin, ingestion, or direct exposure.

WorkplaceTesting explains Carcinogens

Cancer can occur when exposure to carcinogens causes changes in a person's DNA. This change often results in an uncontrolled or abnormal growth of cells. Different carcinogens have varying potentials to cause cancer with some causing cancer only after prolonged exposure. However, there is no safe exposure level to carcinogens as even minimal exposure presents a risk.

Carcinogens can be categorized into biological, chemical, and physical types. Of these, biological chemicals can include agents like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and cell cultures. Chemical carcinogens include diesel engine exhaust, tobacco smoke, and dioxins among others. Physical carcinogens include fibers and particulate matter such as asbestos, metallic cobalt, crystalline silica, and nickel.

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