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Four New Substances Added as Carcinogens

Update Date: Oct 04, 2014 12:23 PM EDT

The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has added four more substances to its list of carcinogens, which are chemicals that can cause cancer.

"Identifying substances in our environment that can make people vulnerable to cancer will help in prevention efforts," Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, said. "This report provides a valuable resource for health regulatory and research agencies, and it empowers the public with information people can use to reduce exposure to cancer-causing substances."

According to the officials, out of the four substances, which are ortho-toluidine, 1-bromopropane, cumene and pentachlorophenol, ortho-toluidine is the only one that has been directly linked to causing cancer in humans. The other three chemicals were deemed "reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens," reported by the Huffington Post.

Ortho-toluidine is a substance that can be used to make rubber chemicals, pesticides and dyes. In 1983, it was listed as a "reasonably anticipated" chemical that could lead to cancer. Now, after the scientists with the HHS reviewed the substance, they concluded that exposure to it can increase people's risk of developing bladder cancer. Even though ortho-toluidine is no longer produced within the U.S., many of the imported items contain the substance.

1-bromopropane is a liquid solvent that has an almost colorless to light yellow hue. The substance is used to clean optics, electronics and metals. It has also been used as a replacement for perchloroethylene in dry cleaning. 1-bromopropane has been linked to causing tumors in many different organs, such as the lungs and the large intestine.

Cumene is a flammable liquid that has an odor similar to gasoline. Cumene can be found in coal tar, petroleum and tobacco smoke and is used mainly to make acetone and phenol. In some studies, researchers found that mice that were exposed to the cumene fumes developed lung cancer as well as live tumors.

Pentachlorophenol is a substance that treats utility poles, wood pilings and fence posts. In small studies, researchers linked pentachlorophenol to liver tumors in mice models. In humans, the substance was linked to an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a form of blood cancer. However, the HHS stated that the evidence was too limited.

For more information on these four substances, click here.

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