Reducing Environmental and Occupational Cancer Risks Toolkit

2. Tools & Resources

Environmental health tracking data can help you identify specific environmental cancer risks in your state.

The National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network (Tracking Network) brings together health data and environmental data from national, state, and city sources and provides supporting information to make the data easier to understand. The Tracking Network has data and information on environmental hazards in addition to data on health effects, and population health resources with participation by 34 states.

If you live in a state with environmental health tracking, as seen highlighted below in blue, these resources can be utilized to discern which environmental carcinogens and pollutants are of most concern in your region and can assist with risk reduction strategies. 

Data available will vary by state given each state’s specific priorities and interests. Click on the map to explore the environmental hazard data available in your state.

To support a reduction in health, social, and ecological inequalities, the U.S. EPA developed EJScreen, a mapping and screening tool that reveals patterns in environmental inequalities related to where people of color and/or low-income populations reside (along with other socio-economic indicators of environmental justice).

EJScreen users select a geographic area; the tool then provides socioeconomic demographic and environmental quality indicators for that area.

The majority of the environmental quality indicators used in EJScreen enhance understanding of known cancer risks and surrogates for such risks (e.g., traffic proximity – living near areas with high traffic volume as a surrogate for cancer risks related to vehicular exhaust). These indicators include for example: 

  • Fine particulate air pollution 
  • Diesel particulate air pollution 
  • Air toxics cancer risks (such as benzene, formaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, ethylene oxide, etc.)
  • Traffic proximity and volume 
  • Superfund proximity
  • Hazardous waste site proximity

Check to see if your state has developed its own environmental justice screening and mapping tool/resource that often includes more local- and state-level environmental quality metrics beyond those included in the U.S. EPA’s EJScreen.

Multiple instructional videos are available through the U.S. EPA.

AirTox Screening Assessment

The Air Toxics Screening Assessment and mapping tool (AirToxScreen) was developed by the U.S. EPA and includes emissions, ambient concentrations, and exposure estimates for 181 of the 189 Air Toxics, regulated under the Clean Air Act. The AirToxScreen also addresses diesel particulate. For about 140 of these air toxics (those with health data based on long-term exposure), the assessment estimates cancer risks, the potential for non-cancer health effects, or both.

The tool can help answer the following questions:

  • What is the cancer risk from Air Toxics in a given area in our state?
  • What pollutants drive those risks?
  • What are the sources of those emissions?

Watch a webinar with U.S. EPA staff providing an overview of AirToxScreen.

Environmental Working Group Tap Water Database 

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a not-for-profit environmental health organization. EWG’s Tap Water Database includes information about drinking water quality for nearly 50,000 community water systems nationwide. The database displays information about the chemical and radioactive contaminants detected in drinking water, and how these concentrations compare to federal legal limits and health guidelines. Known health effects, including cancer associated with specific contaminants, are described. This tool is particularly useful for those states that lack an environmental health tracking system (see above) but are interested to explore cancer risk concerns related to drinking water quality.

Click here to watch a tutorial about EWG’s Tap Water Database

Clearya

Clearya is a tool for identifying cancer-causing chemicals and other toxics in personal care, cosmetics, baby products,and cleaning products. The tool was developed to provide consumers with more information and to guide them as they decide which products to purchase, but can be used to identify chemical hazards, including carcinogens in these consumer product categories. Clearya is a Google Chrome extension and searches products via online retail stores, including Amazon, Walmart, Sephora, Target, and iHerb. If interested in more background on how Clearya was developed and the methodologies used, visit: https://www.clearya.com/our-story

Watch a video about the Clearya App

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) developed the Red List of Chemicals of Concern in Cosmetics to serve as a resource and tool to help consumers, brands, companies, and retailers reduce their use of toxic chemicals in the beauty and personal care products made, sold, and purchased. The list included 102 chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The Red List also contains authoritative lists of hazardous chemicals compiled by reputable scientific organizations.

The most recent iteration of the Red List of Chemicals of Concern expanded to 480 chemicals used in beauty, personal care products, and/or as fragrance ingredients. These chemicals are separated into three different tiers:

  • Tier 1: 241 chemicals of concern that the Campaign believes should be prohibited from use in personal care products or as fragrance ingredients by manufacturers and retailers. Tier 1 is most relevant to cancer risk reduction.
  • Tier 2: 112 emerging chemicals of concern which the Campaign recommends be avoided in products whenever possible.
  • Tier 3: 127 chemicals, including asthmagens, allergens, and irritants whose presence in products should be disclosed so people suffering from these adverse health effects can avoid these chemicals of concern.

EWG Skin Deep

EWG’s Skin Deep Database educates the public about the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products. The search tool ranks products based on hazards in the chemical ingredients. It lists prohibited (or “do not use”) substances and is a useful tool for understanding whether products contain carcinogens. The tool was developed to support consumer purchasing of safer products but can be used for hazard identification.

If interested in more background about how the Skin Deep database was developed and the methodologies used, visit https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

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