Cancer exposure in New Jersey workplaces

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2015 | Occupational Disease

New Jersey doctors know a lot more about the development of cancers than they once did. The medical community is aware certain unavoidable and some preventable factors increase cancer risks. Researchers still have not pinpointed exactly why abnormal cells take hold in some people, but many doctors feel cancers occur as the result of a combination of circumstances.

Cancer affects people of certain races, ages and genders more than others. Cancer shows up among people with particular pre-existing medical conditions, evidence of cancer in their genetic histories and poor personal habits, like smoking and use of alcohol. Cancer is also prevalent among people who’ve suffered exposure to pesticides and other known carcinogens.

Job-related cancers have been traced to herbicide and other chemical exposure, as well as work environments containing silica dust, asbestos and other harmful substances. According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 percent to 10 percent of all cancers are connected to job site exposure.

Researchers attribute 40,000 newly-diagnosed cases and 20,000 cancer deaths each year to workplace exposure to carcinogens. That only pertains to identified cancer-causing agents. Only about 2 percent of chemicals by New Jersey companies have been tested for these agents – the rest have unknown cancer-causing properties.

Consequently, we don’t know everything that needs to be known about cancer, and we have an incomplete list of on-the-job substances that trigger cancer. These are serious issues concerning the health and well-being of Bergen County workers. Despite this lack of formal knowledge, federal health officials believe all cases of occupational exposure – about 48,000 each year in the U.S. – are preventable.

Employers can take safety measures to prevent worker exposure. Prevention includes air monitoring, protective gear and safety, and emergency planning and training. Occupational illness benefits are paid through workers’ compensation. In some cases, settlements or damages for third-party negligence can be obtained through legal actions.