More priority needs to be given to protecting the world’s estimated 111 million welders and other workers from exposure to toxic welding fumes, according to Harvard University’s David Christiani.
The professor of environmental genetics at the university’s TH Chan School of Public Health was among 17 scientists from 10 countries who met last month at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to review scientific literature and evaluate the carcinogenicity of several welding chemicals to humans.
“The Working Group found new evidence to support the conclusion that welding fumes are a likely cause of lung cancer in humans, possible cause of kidney cancer, and definite cause of melanoma of the eye,” Christiani said. In addition to fumes, welding can expose workers to radiation and asbestos, which are known to cause cancer.
The UK Health and Safety Executive’s 2012 top 10 occupational cancer ‘priorities for prevention’ include welding-related lung cancer.
Two other chemicals evaluated at the IARC meeting — molybdenum trioxide (sometimes used in welding) and indium tin oxide (used to make computer screens) — were determined to be possibly cancer-causing in humans.
- Carcinogenicity of welding, molybdenum trioxide, and indium tin oxide, Lancet Oncology, published online first 10 April 2017.