How might I be exposed to chemicals at work?

Even if you don't work in a chemical plant, a lot of jobs you do might expose you to harmful chemicals. These jobs include:

  • building work, heating engineering and plumbing, because of the asbestos contained in many buildings;
  • industrial or domestic cleaning, because many cleaning products contain harmful or irritant chemicals such as bleach;
  • gardening or grounds work, because it may involve using chemical pesticides, many of which are very toxic. Local authorities are the largest single user of pesticides outside farming;
  • painting and decorating, because many paints and varnishes contain toxic solvents;
  • printing, because some printing inks are harmful to your skin;
  • hairdressing, because hair dyes and perming solutions contain ammonia and other harmful chemicals;
  • dry cleaning, because dry cleaning fluids are solvents, and many solvents are toxic;
  • vehicle maintenance, because of exposure to fuels and asbestos dust in brake lining; and
  • nursing and healthcare.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.