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Preventing Chemical Accidents:  Understanding MSDS’s & Assessing Chemical Hazards

Factsheet #9

What We Know

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are over 100,000 chemicals used in commerce today.  

Of those, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program (NTP) has identified 308 chemicals to be “known” carcinogens and an additional 1,364 chemicals that are “reasonably anticipated” to be carcinogens.  NTP is only able to evaluate 10 - 20 chemicals each year.

Unfortunately, we produce chemicals first and ask questions later.  The chart below shows just how many chemicals are in use today compared to the chemicals evaluated for carcinogens and the few chemicals that get tested on an annual basis.

Source:  CANCER AND THE ENVIRONMENT: What You Need to Know; What You Can Do  Published by the DHHS, NIH, NCI & NIEHS. NIH Publication No. 03-2039, August 2003;  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services National Toxicology Program (NTP),

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