Varied exposure to carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic (CMR) chemicals in occupational settings in France

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2017 Feb;90(2):227-241. doi: 10.1007/s00420-016-1191-x. Epub 2017 Jan 10.


Purpose: To explore varied exposure to carcinogenic, mutagenic, and reprotoxic chemicals (CMR) for French employees.

Methods: Our study assessed data from the French national cross-sectional survey of occupational risks (SUMER) that was conducted in 2010 in a national representative sample of employees. We selected 28 CMR agents that were classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or European Union as being known or presumed to have CMR potential in humans. The association of individual and job characteristics with exposure prevalence, duration, and intensity of the CMR agents during a 1-week period was examined using multilevel logistic regression analysis.

Results: Overall, 10.4% of employees in 2010 were exposed to one or more CMR agents at their workplace, and 3.4% were subjected to multiple CMR exposures. Blue-collar workers, night-shift workers and workers with short-term employment contracts experienced higher exposure prevalence (p < 0.01) and intensity (p < 0.05). Blue-collar workers and shift workers experienced also longer exposure duration (p < 0.001). Conversely, managers, workers of large companies, and women were less exposed to CMR agents (p < 0.001). The presence of a Committee for Health, Safety, and Working Conditions, and intervention by Occupational Health and Safety officers were significantly associated with reduced exposure intensities (p < 0.001 and p < 0.05). Establishment of European CMR regulations and the existence of an applicable substitution principle reduced the exposure duration (p < 0.001) and intensity (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Our results point out disparities in CMR exposure and identify high-priority targets for prevention measures to help reducing social health discrepancies.

Keywords: Carcinogenic; Health inequalities; Mutagenic; Occupational exposure; Reprotoxic chemicals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Carcinogens*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Hazardous Substances*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*


  • Carcinogens
  • Hazardous Substances
  • Mutagens