Originally Posted by Tarmac
maybe you can research elevated (or not) rates of cancer among shoeshiners, car mechanics, and chimney sweeps
I haven't found anything regarding shoeshiners, etc. I have found some studies regarding occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
The cancer risk was evaluated from 5 cohort studies of 6,500 carbon electrode workers exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Two studies, involving 2203 workers, provided data on incidence; 52 cases of all neoplasms were reported versus 56.28 that were expected. There were 9 cases of lung cancer versus 9.93 expected cases and 3 cases of urinary cancer versus an expected 3.69 cases. Four studies, involving 5241 workers, reported data on mortality. There were 269 deaths reported from all neoplasms versus an expected 292.1 deaths. There were 82 deaths from respiratory cancer versus an expected 95.8 deaths and 15 deaths from urinary cancer versus an expected 12.7 deaths (LaVecchia & Bosetti, 2003).
With regard to gasoline and diesel:
1) GASOLINE - The majority of the used gasoline engine oils tested were carcinogenic in the dermal carcinogenesis bioassay (McKee & Plutnick, 1989). Fresh gasoline engine oil was not carcinogenic.
2) GASOLINE - The Tranguch Gasoline Spill leaked 50,000 to 900,000 gallons of gasoline from underground storage tanks. A retrospective cohort study of 663 residents was undertaken to determine the incidence of cancer among those potentially exposed to the spill. Cancers recorded included 2 with acute myeloid leukemia, 1 with chronic myeloid leukemia, and 1 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The 2 residents with acute myeloid leukemia lived on the border of the projected gasoline plume which was within the affected area. The standard incidence ratio for leukemia was 4.40 (95% CI 1.09 to 10.24) for the gasoline-affected area (Patel et al, 2004).
3) DIESEL - Fresh and used diesel engine oils were not carcinogenic in the dermal carcinogenesis bioassay (McKee & Plutnick, 1989).
4) The carcinogenicity of the used gasoline engine oils may have been due to the high concentration of polyaromatic hydrocarbons in the used oil. Fresh gasoline oils and fresh or used diesel oils had low levels of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (McKee & Plutnick, 1989)
I personally would shine shoes in a ventilated area. Even if there is some risk of carcinogenicity, it is unlikely to be significant in people that are polishing their own shoes. It might be more of a concern in persons considering a career in shoe shinning.