Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Original research
Occupational exposure to antimony trioxide: a risk assessment
  1. Samantha Schildroth1,2,
  2. Gwendolyn Osborne3,
  3. Anna R Smith1,
  4. Caryn Yip1,4,
  5. Caroline Collins1,5,
  6. Martyn T Smith1,
  7. Martha S Sandy3,
  8. Luoping Zhang1
  1. 1Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Oakland, California, USA
  4. 4Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa College of Public Health, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
  5. 5California Department of Public Health, Richmond, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Luoping Zhang, University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA; luoping{at}; Dr Martha S Sandy, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Oakland, California, USA; Martha.Sandy{at}


Objectives The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) recently recommended in its Report on Carcinogens Monograph for Antimony Trioxide that antimony trioxide be listed as ‘reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen’ based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals and supporting evidence from mechanistic studies. Our goal was to estimate the possible human cancer risk from occupational exposure to antimony trioxide.

Methods We selected data from 2-year inhalation studies in male and female mice conducted by the NTP and performed cancer dose–response analyses using cancer models and benchmark dose methods developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. In these analyses, we generated benchmark doses and cancer slope factors for antimony trioxide, and then estimated human cancer risk under various exposure scenarios. Typical and worst-case inhalation scenarios in multiple occupational settings were used in risk estimation.

Results In typical case scenarios, the occupational cancer risk from antimony trioxide was estimated to be 0.025 (25 in 1000) for persons working with flame retardants in plastics and textiles for 40 years. Under worst-case scenarios, the occupational cancer risk was estimated to be 0.11 (110 in 1000) for persons working with flame retardants in plastics and textiles. At the current Occupational Safety and Health Administration Permissible Exposure Limit, the cancer risk for occupational inhalation exposure of antimony trioxide was estimated to be 0.096 (96 in 1000).

Conclusion The risk estimates calculated in this study suggest that exposure to antimony trioxide at levels present in certain occupational settings results in a large increase in the risk of developing cancer.

  • cancer
  • risk assessment
  • hygiene / occupational hygiene

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding MTS and LZ were supported by grant P42 ES004705 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the OEHHA, the California Environmental Protection Agency, or the State of California.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository. Data are publicly available from the National Toxicology Program. URL:

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.