To explore trends in social and occupational inequalities in terms of exposure to carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic chemicals (CMR) for French employees. Our study assessed data from the French national cross-sectional survey of occupational hazards (SUMER) that was conducted in 2003 and 2010. We included all of the 27 CMR agents that were classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or European Union regulations as being known or presumed to have CMR potential in humans. Trends in prevalence and degree of exposure were examined using multilevel logistic regression analysis. The number of employees exposed to CMR agents decreased by 17.5% between 2003 and 2010. The only CMR entities for which exposure rates increased are not considered to be proven CMRs according to the European Union regulations. With the exception of apprentices, there was an overall decrease in exposure prevalence for all employees. This decrease occurred, however, to different extents. The decrease in the risk of exposure to CMR agents was much greater for those on permanent contracts, managers, and in enterprises with more than 500 employees. Nonetheless, in situations where there was potential for exposure, companies with fewer than 10 employees were in fact able to decrease the degree of risk more than the others. Our results confirm the relevance of reinforcing regulatory restrictions for CMR products, while also indicating that monitoring of trends in disparities will allow public health policy makers to better evaluate progress made toward reducing disparities that affect vulnerable populations.
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.