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Environmental Factor

July 2011

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New substances added to HHS Report on Carcinogens

By Robin Mackar
July 2011

Book cover of the 12th Report on Carcinogens
Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS/NTP director

Birnbaum is first board-certified toxicologist to head NIEHS. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added eight substances to its latest Report on Carcinogens(, a science-based document that identifies chemicals and biological agents that may put people at increased risk for cancer. The report was officially announced by NIEHS during a press briefing June 10.

The industrial chemical formaldehyde and a botanical known as aristolochic acids are listed as known human carcinogens. Six other substances - captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), certain inhalable glass wool fibers, o-nitrotoluene, riddelliine, and styrene - were added as substances that are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens. With these additions, the 12th Report on Carcinogens now includes 240 listings.

"Reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents is something we all want, and the Report on Carcinogens provides important information on substances that pose a cancer risk," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS/NTP director. "The NTP is pleased to be able to compile this report."

John Bucher, Ph.D., associate director of the NTP added, "This report underscores the critical connection between our nation's health and what's in our environment."

The Report on Carcinogens is a congressionally mandated document that is prepared for the HHS Secretary by the NTP. The report identifies agents, substances, mixtures, or exposures in two categories - known to be a human carcinogen and reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen. A listing in the Report on Carcinogens does not by itself mean that a substance will cause cancer. Many factors, including the amount and duration of exposure, and an individual's susceptibility to a substance, affect whether a person will develop cancer.

Once a substance is nominated by the public or private sector and selected for consideration, it undergoes an extensive evaluation with numerous opportunities for scientific and public input. There were at least six opportunities for public input on each substance. The NTP used established criteria to evaluate the scientific evidence on each candidate substance under review. The NTP drew upon the scientific expertise of several federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"The strength of this report lies in the rigorous scientific review process," said Ruth Lunn, Dr.P.H., director of the NTP Office of the Report on Carcinogens. "We could not have completed this report without the significant input we received from the public, industry, academia, and other government agencies."

A detailed description of each substance listed in the Report on Carcinogens is included in the new report. NTP has posted the report and other materials, such as fact sheets and frequently asked questions, online(

(Robin Mackar is the news director in the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)

John Bucher, Ph.D.

NTP Associate Director Bucher (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Ruth Lunn, Dr.P.H.

Director of the NTP Office of the Report on Carcinogens Lunn joined NIEHS in 2008. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

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