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Rubber chemical linked to cancer

A CHEMICAL commonly used to make rubber products may cause cancer in people exposed to fumes during the manufacturing process, British researchers said yesterday.

Workers exposed to 2-mercaptobenzothiazole, or MBT, at a rubber chemicals plant in north Wales were twice as likely to develop colon cancer and four times as likely to get bone marrow cancer compared to the general population, they said.

"Perhaps MBT should be handled with increased care as it may be a human carcinogen," Tom Sorahan of the University of Birmingham and his colleagues said in a paper published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The risk is probably limited to factory workers exposed to MBT when added to a mixture of chemicals eventually used as a component to make rubber products, he added.

"People using rubber goods wouldn't be exposed because MBT wouldn't be given off," Sorahan said. "The problem is for people manufacturing the MBT in industry."


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