Workplace skin contact with certain materials can lead to skin cancer and some materials will readily penetrate the skin and cause cancers elsewhere in the body. There are a range of materials associated with skin cancer.
Squamous cell cancer, cancer arising on the external surface of the skin, can be caused by the following:
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs) from chronic exposure to coal tar products and mineral or shale oils;
- unrefined mineral oils causing scrotal skin cancer, which should be regarded as occupational until proved otherwise, since the non-occupational disease is extremely rare;
- sunlight and pitch exposures can act synergistically to cause the cancer in occupations such as the removal of pitch based roofing or surface materials;
- sunlight alone may be regarded as an occupational cause in outdoor work such as farming;
- chronic exposure to inorganic arsenic, for example among miners and smelters of arsenical ores, can result in cancers associated with 'raindrop' pigmentation and keratoses (precancerous lesions of the skin).
Basal cell cancers may be caused by skin damage from the sun and are commonly seen in outdoor workers.