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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Occupational exposures to carcinogenic substances: tetrafloroethylene

Occupational exposures to carcinogenic substances remain a critical and costly problem in workers' compensation. One would think that adequate testing and safety measures would now be in place to avoid putting substance in the workplace that cause cancer.Yet again, that is still not the case and the economics of the workplace remain superior to health and safety issues. Today's post is shared from

"A recently published study of workers exposed to tetrafloroethylene has failed to identify any risk of cancer [1]. However, despite efforts to include as many exposed workers as possible the study had little power and so more research is needed to clarify whether there is a risk to worker health from exposure.
Molecular formulaC2F4
Molar mass100.02 g/mol
Density1.519 g/cm3 at -76 °C
Melting point
-142.5 °C, 131 K, -225 °F
Boiling point
-76.3 °C, 197 K, -105 °F

"Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE) is used to make fluorinated polymers including polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). It is a colourless, odourless gas that is unstable and tends to form explosive peroxides when in contact with air.

"There is good evidence from studies in rats and mice showing increased incidence of liver and kidney cancers along with leukaemia. On the basis of these data, in 1999 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified TFE as possibly carcinogenic to humans. At that time there was insufficient epidemiological data to be informative.

"Our study was carried out in six PTFE production plants in five countries, which at the time the study was initiated were all of the relevant production facilities in Europe and North America. We constructed a job-exposure matrix (covering the period 1950–2002) for TFE and ammonium perfluoro-octanoate (APFO), a chemical used in the polymerization process [2]. We also identified the vital status of the cohort and cause of death for the deceased. National reference rates were used to calculate standardized mortality ratios (SMRs).

Click here to read the complete article.

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