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What You Need to Know. What You Can Do.
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Federal Government Agencies That Regulate Exposures to Carcinogens

Several federal agencies are charged with establishing permissible levels of exposure to chemical substances in the general environment, home, and workplace, and in food, water, and pharmaceuticals. These include the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

    CPSC is an independent Federal regulatory agency responsible for reducing the risk of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products. The consumer hotline is 1-800-638-2772 or the toll-free TTY number is 1-800-638-8270.

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

    U.S. EPA is a government regulatory agency charged with protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment.

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

    FDA helps safe and effective products to reach the market in a timely way and monitors the products for safety after they are in use.

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

    OSHA is a Federal regulatory agency under the U.S. Department of Labor whose mission is to prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. To report accidents, unsafe working conditions, or safety and health violations call 1-800-321-6742. OSHA also has a toll-free TTY number: 1-877-889-5627. Office of Communications: 202-693-1999. Concerned persons can also contact their local area offices.

  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

    The USDA has several agencies and programs related to agricultural products including food safety inspection, animal and plant inspection service, nutrition programs, and agricultural research programs.

In many cases, more than one agency has the regulatory authority for a specific chemical, depending on its use and potential for human exposure. For example, pesticides are regulated by the EPA, FDA, USDA, and OSHA.

Other Federal Agencies

Other Federal agencies such as the ASTSDR, NIEHS, NCI, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—which includes the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Center for Environmental Health—are charged with generating scientific information that helps regulatory agencies make sound regulatory decisions.

  • Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR):

    ATSDR is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and is the principal federal agency involved with hazardous waste issues and has fact sheets on various chemicals/agents. ATSDR Information Center: 1-888-422-8737.

  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS):

    NIEHS was established to reduce human illness caused by unhealthy substances in the environment. Today, NIEHS supports extensive biomedical research, prevention, and intervention programs, as well as training, education, and community outreach efforts.

    • NIEHS Office of Communications for public inquiries: 1-919-541-3345.
    • National Toxicology Program (NTP):

      The NTP is an interagency program that coordinates toxicology research and testing activities within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The NTP evaluates agents of public health concern by developing and applying tools of modern toxicology and molecular biology and publishes the biennial Report on Carcinogens. To contact the NTP Office of Liaison and Scientific Review: 919-541-0530 (phone); 919-541-0295 (fax); (e-mail).

  • National Cancer Institute (NCI):

    NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports cancer research, training, and health information dissemination throughout the country.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

    CDC is an agency of DHHS that promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Components of the CDC include:

    • CDC public inquiries: 1-800-232-4636
    • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

      A Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related disease and injury. 1-800-356-4674

    • National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals:
    • GIS (geographic information systems) and public health Web site:
    • National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS):

      NCHS collects data to monitor the nation’s health.

    • National Program of Cancer Registries:

      Funds statewide cancer registries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories, and serves as a valuable resource for persons concerned about a possible increased occurrence of cancer in their communities.

    • The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program:

      Provides free screening exams to poor, uninsured women in all 50 states.

    • Office of Smoking and Health:
    • Division of Cancer Prevention and Control:
State and Local Health Departments

State government agencies also play a key role in establishing allowable exposure levels. The organizations dealing with environmental health issues vary widely among different states, but they usually include a Department of Health, a Department of the Environment, and an Occupational Health Department. For example, North Carolina has a Department of Environment and Natural Resources and a Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, most county health offices can direct you to the appropriate state officials for obtaining information about local emissions of chemicals and exposure prevention rules and guidelines. State and local health departments:

Cancer Statistics

Resources describing the trends over the past several years in new cases of cancer diagnosed or deaths due to cancer are listed below:

  • NCI’s SEER Program is the most authoritative source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the United States:
  • National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS): This branch of the CDC collects national statistics to monitor the nation’s health: 301-458-4800.
  • National Program of Cancer Registries funds statewide cancer registries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and several territories, and serves as a valuable resource for persons concerned about a possible increased occurrence of cancer in their communities:
  • For geographic patterns of rates of cancer death from 1950–1994 for over 40 cancers:
General Cancer Information
Other Resources
  • The National Library of Medicine has compiled a list of the ingredients in common household products and their health effects:
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC):

    IARC is part of the World Health Organization and its mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer. IARC publishes a series of reports that focuses on the cancer risks associated with agents such as industrial chemicals, viruses, and ionizing radiation.

  • World Health Organization’s document:

    “Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases”:
    [PDF - 722 KB]

  • American Cancer Society’s nutrition and diet guidelines:
  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA):

    An agency of the Department of Labor, MSHA’s mission is to protect the health and safety of the miner.

General Health Information
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH):

    A single access point for consumer health resources at the NIH, the DHHS agency responsible for biomedical research. Public inquiries: 301-496-4000

  • Healthfinder:

    A Web site created by DHHS to help consumers quickly find health and human services information.

  • Medline:

    The world’s most extensive collection of published medical information, coordinated by the National Library of Medicine.

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