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Original research
Prevalence of exposure to multiple occupational carcinogens among exposed workers in Australia


Objectives Workers can be exposed to a range of different carcinogenic agents in the workplace. However, previous studies have often focused on prevalence of exposure to a single carcinogen, resulting in substantial knowledge gaps regarding the extent of multiple exposures in the workplace. This study aims to investigate the current prevalence of occupational exposure to multiple carcinogens among exposed workers in Australia.

Methods The data for this study come from the Australian Work Exposures Study, a nationwide cross-sectional telephone survey of Australian workers aged between 18 and 65. Information was collected about the respondents’ current employment and numerous demographic factors using a web-based application (Occupational Integrated Database Exposure Assessment System) to conduct the interview, with predefined algorithms used to automatically assign exposures to carcinogens based on the respondents’ job tasks.

Results The majority (81%) of exposed respondents were assessed as being probably exposed to more than one carcinogen, and 26% reported exposure to five or more carcinogens. We found that after adjusting for occupation, exposure to multiple carcinogens was more likely among male respondents, while older workers (aged between 55 and 65) were less likely to be exposed to multiple carcinogens.

Conclusions This study provides information on the prevalence of exposure to multiple carcinogens in the general population that has not previously been reported. This information could be useful for the intervention and control of occupational exposures to the prioritised carcinogens identified in this study.

  • epidemiology
  • cancer
  • materials
  • exposures or occupational groups

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