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Federal Agency Flags 8 New Substances That Could Give You Cancer

Throughout our lives there are potentially thousands of harmful substances that we might encounter which can have a detrimental effect on our health. Some common elements are tobacco smoke, mustard gas, alcohol and x-rays; according to National Toxicology Program (NTP) reports, there are more than 200 different carcinogens currently on the list. As of December 2021, the U.S Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) has added an additional eight items to this list, and the number continues to grow.

What Are Carcinogens?

According to genome.gov, “A carcinogen is a specific chemical or physical agent that has the ability to cause cancer in individuals exposed to that agent.” These toxic elements, whether they are ingested through our diet or environmental exposure, may increase our chance of getting different types of cancers. That’s why identifying all of these carcinogens can be helpful for us. Once we obtain this knowledge we can then make conscious decisions to take preventative measures by limiting ourselves to various exposures. (3)

The 8 New Carcinogens

The eight new carcinogens that have recently been added to the list are bacterium, flame retardant and six byproducts from water purification. Let’s take a closer look at each one.


Chronic infection of Helicobacter pylori (h.pylori) was found to be on the newest reports of carcinogens. With the potential to cause gastritis, peptic ulcers, and even a rare type of stomach lymphoma, H.pylori is a bacterium that colonizes in the stomach and may show no symptoms at all. The most common way people get infected is through drinking contaminated water. Those living in poorer conditions where clean water is not as accessible are more likely to get infected. (5)

Flame Retardant

As a component of flame retardants in textiles, plastics, and other consumer products, antimony trioxide exposure is common among workers in these types of factories, and is a known cancer risk. But it’s not just factory workers who are at risk. Anyone can be exposed to smaller doses of antimony trioxide through various consumer products they purchase such as the sofas, drapes, and carpets that these factories produce. (4)

Water Disinfection Byproducts

The six byproducts that were recently listed are called haloacetic acids (HAAs). HAAs are the result of disinfecting water that contains organic matter, which as a result of that organic matter, has had a reaction to chlorine-based disinfection agents.

The following six HAAs are included in the report: (5)

  • Bromochloroacetic acid (BCA)
  • Bromodichloroacetic acid (BDCA)
  • Chlorodibromoacetic acid (CDBA)
  • Dibromoacetic acid (DBA)
  • Dichloroacetic acid (DCA)
  • Tribromoacetic acid (TBA)

The major concern with HAAs is that due to the shared water system, millions of people in the U.S are at risk of this exposure. Although the disinfection process is monitored, there is still room to grow for the technology that is used to disinfect our water.

Though this growing list of harmful substances may cause upset, it is important to stay informed and aware. Just because an item is listed doesn’t necessarily mean it will cause cancer in an individual. It means that it does have the potential to be hazardous, and that care should be taken. (2)

By knowing which carcinogens you are most likely to be exposed to, you’ll be able to take precautions or avoid exposure altogether if possible. These findings are here to help educate us so we can make the best choices possible in our healthy lifestyle. 


  1. https://grist.org/regulation/federal-agency-flags-8-new-substances-that-could-give-you-cancer/
  2. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/pressctr/factsheet/15th_roc_508.pdf
  1. https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Carcinogen
  2. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2021/december21/index.cfm

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