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10 October 2016

New website on carcinogens at work

From 10 October, people interested in the issue of workers' exposure to carcinogens can find useful information and resources on This website was developed as part of the European "Roadmap on Carcinogens" campaign, a joint initiative by the EU Council presidencies of 2016 (Netherlands) and 2018 (Austria), the European Commission, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the European social partners (the European Trade Union Confederation and BusinessEurope).

"It facilitates the exchange of information about good practices and also promotes activities that will raise awareness of the importance of reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents," the founders stated in a press release.

The "Roadmap on Carcinogens" campaign was launched in May 2016 following a conference in Amsterdam organised by the Dutch Presidency of the European Union. It is a voluntary action scheme aimed at improving knowledge among workers, trade unions, labour inspectors, companies and other actors about exposure to carcinogens and what is being done to eliminate or at least decrease it.

The ETUI, which provides the ETUC with scientific support for its participation in the "Roadmap" campaign, encourages European and national trade unions and their research services to contribute resource materials to the new website with information about workers' exposure to carcinogens and the union campaigns that are tackling this issue.

Every year, more than 100,000 people die in Europe as a result of their exposure to carcinogenic substances in the workplace.

In May 2016, the Commission presented a proposal for a revision of the Directive on carcinogenic and mutagenic agents (2004/37/EC). Specifically, it proposed adding new occupational exposure limit values or changing the existing values to reduce exposure to 13 priority chemical agents. Some of these 13 agents, such as respirable crystalline silica, chromium (VI) compounds, hardwood dusts and hydrazine, concern a very large number of workers.

The European Trade Union Confederation welcomed the fact that the Commission had finally decided to strengthen its legislation against carcinogens.

Research has shown that workers are exposed to a much broader range of carcinogens than those covered by the Commission’s proposed new draft directive. In a study recently published by the ETUI, a German expert has identified 71 carcinogens or groups of carcinogens for which he recommends the adoption of a binding occupational exposure limit value.

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