Objectives This study aims to estimate at a national level the frequency of occupational multiple exposure to carcinogenic agents and to identify economic activities and occupations with the highest frequency of exposure, for prioritisation of preventive measures.
Methods New analyses of the data from the SUMER 2009–2010 survey relative to exposure of French salaried workers (sample of 48 000 individuals) to carcinogenic agents were performed. The selected carcinogenic agents were: the 24 most often used chemicals with carcinogenic properties, ionising radiation, and night work for women (≥45 nights/year). The proportions of workers exposed to a particular set of hazards were obtained by cumulative binary exposure indices, defined for each carcinogen (present/absent, according to the occupational physician).
Results In 2009–2010, 12.0% of French salaried workers (∼2.6 million, 2 million men and 600 000 women) were potentially exposed to at least one carcinogenic agent from whom 757 000 had at least a double exposure. Exposed men were mainly construction workers, skilled maintenance, transport and metal workers. Exposed women worked principally in health occupations (nurses, midwives, nurses-aids) or in process industries, or were hairdressers and beauticians. Occupational exposure of men to carcinogens was the highest for skilled workers in automobile repair (79.2% exposed to at least one chemical carcinogen). For women, nurses and midwives constituted the group with the most frequent exposure (30.3%; due in particular to night work, but also to chemical carcinogens and/or ionising radiation). Nearly 1.58 million salaried workers (7.3%) were exposed to at least one lung carcinogen and 914 200 (4.2%) to at least one ENT carcinogen.
Conclusions This study shows that workers’ exposure to carcinogenic agents remains relatively frequent in France, especially among men, and particularly in specific economic activities and occupational groups where preventive actions have to be implemented in priority.
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