A new study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer cites 20 possible cancer sources several of which include metals. According to the Chicago Tribune, sponsors of the research The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIOSH) and the National Cancer Institute named the following metal containing chemicals, oxides and mineral compounds as possible cancer-causing agents:
Â¢ Lead and lead compounds
Â¢ Indium phosphide
Â¢ Cobalt with tungsten carbide
Â¢ Titanium dioxide
Â¢ Welding fumes (not a metals compound but nonetheless related to the metals industries)
Though many of these materials are well known to cause cancer (e.g. lead and lead compounds or cobalt 60 a radioactive isotope), this list also includes “possible carcinogens. According to the study, the 20 agents were classified against a range of parameters as follows:
“carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), “probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), “possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3), or “probably not carcinogenic to humans (Group 4)
According to the study, lead and lead compounds, indium phosphide, and cobalt metal with tungsten carbide all received the 2A designation (probably carcinogenic to humans) with an S rating meaning “sufficient evidence exists to support the claim. Titanium dioxide and welding fumes received a 2B designation (possibly carcinogenic to humans)
These and the other 20 elements were selected for review for two reasons http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66E5AS20100715 according to Elizabeth Ward of the American Cancer Society, “One is there is more of a hint in most cases that they might be involved with cancer,” and the second is that some of the areas of focus are used throughout industry (are widespread) and there isn’t enough research to make the link to cancer.
The metal that raised a few alarm bells, however, indium phosphide, a composite semiconductor used in flat screen televisions, “might cause lung damage and genetic changes when breathed in, according to the Reuters report. Indium is a metal http://geology.com/articles/indium.shtml whose usage has increased in recent years.