Revision 1/2018

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Hazard Description

Hazard Description

A carcinogen commonly describes any agent that can initiate or speed the development of malignant or potentially malignant tumors, malignant neoplastic proliferation of cells, or cells that possess such material. 

The OSHA Lab Standard defines a “Select Carcinogen” as any substance, which meets one of the following criteria:

(i) It is regulated by OSHA as a carcinogen; or

(ii) It is listed under the category, "known to be carcinogens," in the Annual Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) (latest edition); or

(iii) It is listed under Group 1 ("carcinogenic to humans") by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs (IARC) (latest editions); or

(iv) It is listed in either Group 2A or 2B by IARC or under the category, "reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens" by NTP, and causes statistically significant tumor incidence in experimental animals in accordance with any of the following criteria:

  • (A) After inhalation exposure of 6-7 hours per day, 5 days per week, for a significant portion of a lifetime to dosages of less than 10 mg/m(3);
  • (B) After repeated skin application of less than 300 (mg/kg of body weight) per week; or
  • (C) After oral dosages of less than 50 mg/kg of body weight per day.

With regard to mixtures, OSHA requires that a mixture, “shall be assumed to present a carcinogenic hazard if it contains a component in concentrations of 0.1% or greater, which is considered to be carcinogenic.”

Interpreting the SDS

Consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical to determine whether there is a human carcinogen hazard.

Carcinogenic materials labeled according to the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) will have a container label and SDS that shows the "Health Hazard Pictogram"

GHS health hazard pictogram red bordered diamond with white starburst on black silhouette of human torso
         Health Hazard

Under GHS, carcinogens are categorized as either known/presumed carcinogens (Category 1) or suspected carcinogens (Category 2). Category 1 is subdivided further based on whether the evidence for classification is mostly from human (1A) or animal (1B) data.

The procedures in this SOP apply to all known or suspected carcinogenic chemicals used in the laboratory.



If you or your lab has not worked with this hazard before and you are considering a procedure that requires you to do so, we recommend contacting EHRS for guidance.

All work that involves the handling or transfer of carcinogenic chemicals requires the approval of the P.I.  The P.I. must ensure that the person or team who will be working with the carcinogenic chemicals understands the hazards and has received adequate training and supervision for the procedure.   For any task that requires safety controls beyond those specified in this SOP, a task-specific Hazard Control Plan (HCP) must be written.  The HCP must be sent to EHRS for review.  EHRS will upload the HCP to the “documents” section of the lab’s BioRAFT page.

Training Requirements

Training Requirements

No researcher may work independently with the hazardous material described in this SOP until the Principal Investigator (or their designee) has ensured that the researcher:

  • Has completed all required EHRS laboratory safety training programs
  • Understands the hazards of the materials and risks of the processes involved
  • Has read and understand the contents of this SOP
  • Demonstrates the ability to execute their work according to the requirements in this SOP
Facility Requirements

Facility Requirements

General Ventilation

Carcinogenic chemicals may not be handled or stored in a room or facility with recirculating exhaust.

Chemical Fume Hood

All work with carcinogenic  chemicals in open or closed systems must be done in a designated area of a laboratory inside of a properly functioning chemical fume hood.

Emergency Irrigation

Emergency irrigation (safety shower, eyewash) must be accessible within a 10-second travel distance of the area where the work is performed.

Signage and Labeling

Signage and Labeling

The room sign for the laboratory must contain a “Designated Area” identifier.

In cases where the entire lab is not already considered a Designated Area, all locations within the laboratory where acutely toxic chemicals are handled must be demarcated with designated area caution tape (available from EHRS, the Cell Center, or Chemistry stockroom) and/or posted with designated area caution signs. This includes all fume hoods and bench tops where the carcinogenic chemicals are handled.

A legible manufacturer’s label including hazard information must be present on all commercial containers of carcinogenic chemicals.

If carcinogenic chemicals are transferred to another container for storage or to make stock solutions for later use, special labeling requirements apply.  See the “Researcher-Created Labels” section in Section IV:  Chemical Container Labeling in this CHP for a complete list of requirements.

Storage and Transport

Storage and Transport

Proper storage and transport of carcinogenic Chemicals must be determined by assessing all of the hazards and physical properties of the chemical. 

See Section VI:  Chemical Storage and Transportation in this CHP for a complete list of requirements.

Hazard Controls

Hazard Controls

Engineering Controls

Chemical Fume Hood

All work with carcinogenic chemicals in open or closed systems must be done in a designated area of a laboratory inside of a properly functioning chemical fume hood.

The fume hood is designed to capture chemical vapor and the hood sash acts as a shield in case of chemical splash.  The sash must be kept closed as much as feasible.

Vacuum Protection

Mechanical vacuum pumps must be protected using cold traps and, where appropriate, must include a filter to prevent particulate release.  The pump exhaust must be vented into an approved exhaust duct or chemical fume hood.

Glove Box

Certain acutely toxic chemicals must be handled in a glove box rather than a fume hood. The Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (8-4453) or the Principal Investigator will determine if this is required.

If a chemical fume hood or glove box is not available, contact EHRS to determine whether the risks can be adequately controlled using alternative controls.

Work Practices

A list of recommended work practices for hazardous chemical handling is included in Section V: Chemical Handling in this CHP. Of particular relevance to carcinogenic  chemical use:

Considerations for purchase

  • Do not use carcinogenic  chemicals if less-hazardous alternatives are possible.
  • Purchase, dispense, and use the smallest quantity of carcinogenic chemicals possible. 
  • Purchase the lowest concentration of carcinogenic chemicals that will meet your research needs.

Considerations for work space

  • Use disposable work surface covers (“bench protectors”) in areas where carcinogenic chemicals are handled to prevent contamination of work surface.  Change bench protectors daily when carcinogenic chemicals are used, and properly dispose of contaminated covers.

Considerations for handling

  • Do not handle carcinogenic chemicals when working alone.
  • Immediately close all containers of carcinogenic chemicals after use.
  • Due to the risk of splashes and equipment failures, not use a syringe and needle to perform transfers of carcinogenic chemicals in volumes of greater than 5 mL. 
  • Do not dispense carcinogeni  chemicals directly onto a laboratory balance in the general lab space.  Instead, transfer the material into a sealable, pre-tared container inside the fume hood; then take the sealed container to the balance.  Adjust the amount of material inside the container until the desired mass is reached.  Make all adjustments inside the fume hood.
  • The use of carcinogenic chemicals in laboratory animals may require additional work practice controls.  Contact EHRS if your protocol involves acutely toxic chemicals.

Additional work practices for reducing the risks of any lab procedure involving carcinogenic chemicals must be described in a written Hazard Control Plan.

Personal Protective Equipment

Consider the potential routes of exposure and health consequences when selecting personal protective equipment (PPE) for tasks involving carcinogenic chemicals. 

In addition to the minimum lab apparel and PPE requirements, other protective equipment may be necessary to reduce risks.  When additional equipment (such as tight-fitting chemical splash goggles, chemical-resistant gloves, or disposable lab coats) are required, a Hazard Control Plan must be written to document the risk assessment and controls.

Contact EHRS for assistance with risk assessments, glove compatibility, and other PPE selection.

The minimum PPE requirements for all chemical handling tasks, and information about specialty PPE can be found in the "Personal Protective Equipment" section of Section V:  Chemical Handling in this CHP.

Waste and Decontamination

Waste and Decontamination

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling any chemical and whenever you leave the lab.

Use good housekeeping practices to avoid contamination of surfaces, garments, personal belongings, and self.

Decontaminate all surfaces that have come in contact with carcinogenic chemicals and clean-up small spills promptly.  See the chemical Safety Data Sheet or contact EHRS for assistance with determining an appropriate decontamination method.  See “Spills” below for instruction on what to do in the event of a large or hazardous spill of a carcinogenic chemical.

For complete hazardous waste guidelines, see the waste section of the EHRS website: Laboratory Chemical Waste Management Guidelines



Emergency Contacts

General emergency response information can be found at Emergency Info


General procedures for chemicals spill response can be found in Section X: Chemical Spills in this CHP.

Do not hesitate to call EHRS for assistance with spill cleanup for carcinogenic materials.

24 hours: 215-898-4453

Contact Penn Police (511) only if the spill involves a fire, imminent risk of fire, an injury requiring an ambulance, or if there is a hazard that may affect others in the building.

Examples of Carcinogenic Materials

List of Select and Suspected Carcinogens

This list is provided as a guide and is not all inclusive. Carefully review safety data sheets before working with chemicals.

Chemical Name CAS
A-alpha-C (2-Amino-9H-pyrido{2,3-b]indole) 26148685
Acetaldehyde 76070
Acetamide 60355
Acetochlor 34256821
2-Acetylaminofluorene 53963
Acifluorfen 62476599
Acrylamide 79061
Acrylonitrile 107131
Actinomycin D 50760
Adriamycin (Doxorubicin hydrochloride) 23214928
AF-2; [2-(2-furyl)-3-(5-nitro-2-furyl)]acrylamide 3588537
Aflatoxins ----
Alachlor 15972608
Aldrin 309002
Allyl chloride 107051
2-Aminoanthraquinone 117793
p-Aminoazobenzene 60093
ortho-Aminoazotoluene 97563
4-Aminobiphenyl (4-aminodiphenyl) 92671
3-Amino-9-ethylcarbazole hydrochloride 6109973
1-Amino-2-methylanthraquinone 82280
2-Amino-5-(5-nitro-2-furyl)-1,3,4-thiadiazole 712685
Amitrole 61825
Aniline 62533
ortho-Anisidine 90040
ortho-Anisidine hydrochloride 134292
Antimony oxide (Antimony trioxide) 130964
Aramite 140578
Arsenic (inorganic arsenic compounds) ---
Asbestos 1332214
Auramine 492808
Azaserine 115026
Azathioprine 446866
Azacitidine 320672
Azobenzene 103333
Benz[a]anthracene 56553
Benzene 71432
Benzidine [and its salts] 92875
Benzo [b] fluoranthene 205992
Benzo [j] fluoranthene 205823
Benzo [k] fluoranthene 207089
Benzofuran 271896
Benzo [a] pyrene 50328
Benzotrichloride 98077
Benzyl chloride 100447
Benzyl violet 4B 1694093
Beryllium and beryllium compounds ---
Betel quid with tobacco ---
Bis(2-chloroethyl)ether 111444
N,N,-Bis(2-chloroethyl)-2-naphthylamine (Chlornapazine) 494031
Bischloroethyl nitrosourea (BCNU) (Carmustine) 154938
Bis (chloromethyl) ether 542881
Bitumens, extracts of steam-refined and air-refined ---
Bracken fern ---
Bromodichloromethane 75274
Bromoform 75252
1,3-Butadiene 106990
1,4-Butanediol dimethanesulfonate (Busulfan) 55981
Butylated hydroxyanisole 25013165
vbeta-Butyrolactone 3068880
Cadmium and cadmium compounds ---
Captafol 2425061
Captan 133062
Carbon tetrachloride 56235
Carbon-black extracts ---
Ceramic fibers ---
Chlorambucil 305033
Chloramphenicol 56757
Chlordane 57749
Chlordecone (Kepone) 143500
Chlordimeform 115286
Chlorendic acid 115286
Chlorinated paraffins 108171262
Chlorodibromethane 124481
Chloroethane (Ethyl chloride) 75003
1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-cyclohexyl-1-nitrosourea 13010474
1-(2-Chloroethyl)-3-(4-methylcyclohexyl)-1-nitrosourea (Methyl-CCNU) 13909096
Chloroform 67663
Chloromethyl methyl ether 107302
3-Chloro-2-methylpropene 563473
4-Chloro-ortho-phenylenediamine 95830
p-Chloro-o-toluidine 95692
Chlorothalonil 1897456
Chlorozotocin 54749905
Chromium (hexavalent) ---
Chrysene 18019
C. I. Acid Red 114 6459945
C. I. Basic Red 9 monohydrochloride 569619
Ciclosporin (Cyclosporin A; Cyclosporine) 59865133;79217600
Cinnamyl anthranilate 87296
Cisplatin 15663271
Citrus Red No. 2 6358538
Cobalt metal powder 7440484
Cobalt [II] oxide 1307966
Conjugated estrogens ---
Creosotes ---
para-Cresidine 120718
Cupferron 135206
Cycasin 14901087
Cyclophosphamide (anhydrous) 50180
Cyclophosphamide (hydrated) 6055192
D&C Orange No. 17 46831
D&C Red No. 8 2092560
D&C Red No. 9 5160021
D&C Red No. 19 81889
Dacarbazine 4342034
Daminozide 1596845
Dantron (Chrysazin; 1,8-Dihydroxyanthraquinone) 117102
Daunomycin 20830813
DDD (Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane) 72548
DDE (Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene) 72559
DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) 50293
DDVP (Dichlorvos) 62737
N,N'-Diacetylbenzidine 613354
2,4-Diaminoanisole 615054
2,4-Diaminoanisole sulfate 39156417
4,4'-Diaminodiphenyl ether (4,4'-Oxydianiline) 101804
2,4-Diaminotoluene 95807
Diaminotoluene (mixed) ---
Dibenz[a,h]acridine 226368
Dibenz[a,j]acridine 224420
Dibenz[a,h]anthracene 53703
7H-Dibenzo[c,g]carbazole 194592
Dibenzo[a,e]pyrene 192654
Dibenzo[a,h]pyrene 189640
Dibenzo[a,i]pyrene 189559
Dibenzo[a,l]pyrene 191300
1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) 96128
p-Dichlorobenzene 106467
3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine 91941
1,4-Dichloro-2-butene 764410
3,3'-Dichloro-4,4'-diaminodiphenyl ether 28434868
1,1-Dichloroethane 75343
Dichloromethane (Methylene chloride) 75092
1,2-Dichloropropane 78875
1,3-Dichloropropene 542756
Dieldrin 60571
Dienestrol 84173
Diepoxybutane 1464535
Diesel engine exhaust ---
Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate 117817
1,2-Diethylhydrazine 1615801
Diethyl sulfate 64675
Diethylstilbestrol 56531
Diglycidyl resorcinol ether (DGRE) 101906
Dihydrosafrole 94586
3,3'-Dimethoxybenzidine (ortho-Dianisidine) 119904
3,3'-Dimethoxybenzidine dihydrochloride (ortho-Dianisidine dihydrochloride) 20325400
Dimethylcarbamoyl chloride 79447
1,1-Dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) 57147
1,2-Dimethylhydrazine 540738
Dimethylvinylchloride 513371
1,6-Dinitropyrene 42397648
1,8-Dinitropyrene 42397659
2,4-Dinitrotoluene 121142
1,4-Dioxane 123911
Diphenylhydantoin (Phenytoin) 57410
Diphenylhydantoin (Phenytoin), sodium salt 630933
Direct Black 38 (technical grade) 1937377
Direct Blue 6 (technical grade) 2602462
Direct Brown 95 (technical grade) 16071866
Disperse Blue 1 2475458
Epichlorohydrin 106898
Erionite 12510428
Estradiol 17β 50282
Estrone 53167
Ethinylestradiol 57636
Ethyl acrylate 140885
Ethyl methanesulfonate 62500
Ethyl-4-4'-dichlorobenzilate 510156
Ethylene dibromide 106934
Ethylene dichloride (1,2-Dichloroethane) 107062
Ethylene oxide 75218
Ethylene thiourea 96457
Ethyleneimine 151564
Folpet 133073
Formaldehyde 50000
2-(2-Formylhydrazino)-4-(5-nitro-2-furyl)thiazole 3570750
Furazolidone 67458
Furmecyclox 60568050
Glu-P-1 (2-Amino-6-methyldipyrido[1,2-a:3',2'- d]imidazole) 67730114
Glycidaldehyde 765344
Glycidol 556525
Griseofulvin 126078
Gyromitrin (Acetaldehyde methylformylhydrazone) 16568028
HC Blue 1 2784943
Heptachlor 76448
Heptachlor epoxide 1024573
Hexachlorobenzene 118741
Hexachlorocyclohexane (technical grade) ---
Hexachlorodibenzodioxin 34465468
Hexachloroethane 67721
Hexamethylphosphoramide 680319
Hydrazine 302012
Hydrazine sulfate 10034932
Hydrazobenzene (1,2-Diphenylhydrazine) 122667
Indeno [1,2,3-cd]pyrene 193395
IQ (2-Amino-3-methylimidazp[4,5-f]quinoline) 76180966
Iron dextran complex 9004664
Isosafrole 120581
Lactofen 77501634
Lasiocarpine 303344
Lead acetate 301042
Lead phosphate 7446277
Lead subacetate 1335326
Lindane ---
Mancozeb 8018017
Maneb 12427382
Me-A-alpha-C (2-Amino-3-methyl-9H-pyrido[2,3-b]indole) 68005837
Medroxyprogesterone acetate 71589
Melphalan 148823
Merphalan 531760
Mestranol 72333
8-Methoxypsoralen with ultraviolet A therapy 298817
5-Methoxypsoralen with ultraviolet A therapy 484208
2-Methylaziridine (Propyleneimine) 75558
Methylazoxymethanol 590965
Methylazoxymethanol acetate 592621
3-Methylcholanthrene 56495
5-Methylchrysene 3697243
4,4'-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) 101144
4,4'-Methylene bis(N,N-dimethyl)benzenamine 101611
4,4'-Methylene bis(2-methylaniline) 838880
4,4'-Methylenedianiline 01779
4,4'-Methylenedianiline dihydrochloride 13552448
Methylhydrazine and its salts 13552448
Methyl iodide 74884
Methyl methanesulfonate 66273
2-Methyl-1-nitroanthraquinone 129157
N-Methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine 70257
N-Methylolacrylamide 924425
Methylthiouracil 56042
Metiram 9005422
Metronidazole 443481
Michler's ketone 90948
Mirex 2385855
Mitomycin C 50077
Monocrotaline 315220
5-(Morpholinomethyl)-3-[(5-nitro-furfurylidene)-amino]-2 -oxalolidinone 139913
Mustard Gas 505602
Nafenopin 3771195
1-Naphthylamine 124327
2-Naphthylamine 91598
Nickel and certain nickel compounds ---
Nickel carbonyl 13463393
Nickel subsulfide 12035722
Niridazole 61474
Nitrilotriacetric acid 139139
Nitrilotriacetric acid, trisodium salt monohydrate 18662538
5-Nitroacenaphthene 602879
5-Nitro-o-anisidine 99592
4-Nitrobiphenyl 93933
6-Nitrochrysene 7496028
Nitrofen (technical grade) 1836755
2-Nitrofluorene 607578
Nitrofurazone 59870
1-[5-Nitrofurfurylidene)-amino]-2-imidazolidinone 555840
N-[4-(5-Nitro-2-furyl)-2-thiazolyl]acetamide 531828
Nitrogen mustard (Mechlorethamine) 51752
Nitrogen mustard hydrochloride (Mechlorethamine hydrochloride) 55867
Nitrogen mustard N-oxide 126852
Nitrogen mustard N-oxide hydrochloride 302705
2-Nitropropane 79469
1-Nitropyrene 5522430
4-Nitropyrene 57835924
N-Nitrosodi-n-butylamine 924163
N-Nitrosodiethanolamine 1116547
N-Nitrosodiethylamine 55185
N-Nitrosodimethylamine 62759
p-Nitrosodiphenylamine 156105
N-Nitrosodiphenylamine 86306
N-Nitrosodi-n-propylamine 621647
N-Nitroso-N-ethylurea 759739
3-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)propionitrile 60153493
4-(N-Nitrosomethylamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)1-butanone 64091914
N-Nitrosomethylethylamine 10595956
N-Nitroso-N-methylurea 684935
N-Nitroso-N-methylurethane 615532
N-Nitrosomethylvinylamine 4549400
N-Nitrosomorpholine 59892
N-Nitrosonornicotine 16543558
N-Nitrosopiperidine 100754
N-Nitrosopyrrolidine 930552
N-Nitrososarcosine 13256229
Norethisterone (Norethindrone) 68224
Ochratoxin A 303479
Oxadiazon 19666309
Oxymetholone 434071
Panfuran S ---
Pentachlorophenol 87865
Phenacetin 62442
Phenazopyridine 94780
Phenazopyridine hydrochloride 136403
Phenesterin 3546109
Phenobarbital 50066
Phenoxybenzamine 59961
Phenoxybenzamine hydrochloride 63923
Phenyl glycidyl ether 22601
Phenylhydrazine and its salts ---
o-Phenylphenate, sodium 132274
Polybrominated biphenyls ---
Polychlorinated biphenyls ---
Polygeenan 53973981
Ponceau MX 3761533
Ponceau 3R 3564098
Potassium bromate 7758012
Procarbazine 671169
Procarbazine hydrochloride 366701
Progesterone 57830
1,3-Propane sultone 1120714
beta-Propiolactone 57578
Propylene oxide 75569
Propylthiouracil 51525
Reserpine 50555
Saccharin 81072
Saccharin, sodium 128449
Safrole 94597
Selenium sulfide 7446346
Silica, crystalline ---
Streptozotocin 18883664
Styrene oxide 96093
Sulfallate 95067
Talc� containing asbestiform fibers ---
Testosterone and its esters 58220
2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin (TCDD) 1746016
1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane 79345
Tetrachloroethylene (Perchloroethylene) 127184
p-a, a, a-Tetrachlorotoluene 5216251
Tetranitromethane 509148
Thioacetamide 62555
4,4� - Thiodianiline 139651
Thiourea 62566
Thorium dioxide 1314201
Toluene diisocyanate 26471625
ortho-Toluidine 95534
ortho-Toluidine hydrochloride 636215
para-Toluidine 106490
Toxaphene (Polychorinated camphenes) 8001352
Trasulfan 299752
Trichlormethine (Trimustine hydrochloride) 817094
2,4,6-Trichlorophenol 88062
Triphenyltin hydroxide 76879
Trichloroethylene 79016
Tris (aziridinyl)-para-benzoquinone (Triaziquone) 68768
Tris (1-aziridinyl) phosphine sulfide (Thiotepa) 52244
Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate 115968
Tris (2,3-dibromopropyl) phosphate 126727
Trp-P-1 (Tryptophan-P-1) 62450060
Trp-P-2 (Tryptophan-P-2) 62450071
Trypan blue (commercial grade) 72571
Uracil mustard 66751
Urethane (Ethyl carbamate) 51796
Vinyl bromide 593602
Vinyl chloride 75014
4-Vinyl-1-cyclohexene diepoxide (Vinyl cyclohexene dioxide) 106876
Vinyl trichloride (1,1,2-Trichloroethane) 79005
2,6-Xylidine (2,6-Dimethylaniline) 87627
Zineb 12122677
Related SOPs and Fact Sheets

Related SOPs and Fact Sheets

Phenol-Chloroform Extraction



This SOP was based on the previous version of EHRS SOP for Carcinogens and the following additional resources:

  1. International Agency for Research on Cancer
  2. OSHA's Guide to The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS)
  3. OSHA Lab Standard