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Seven Jobs That Will Make You Sick

1. Morticians
> Risk: leukemia
> Cause: formaldehyde
> Median annual wage: $52,210

Morticians who use formaldehyde to embalm bodies are at an exceptionally high risk of leukemia. “Previous studies have shown excess mortality from lymphohematopoietic malignancies and brain cancer in anatomists, pathologists, and funeral industry workers, all of whom may have worked with formaldehyde,” reports the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Formaldehyde, which is used in plywood manufacturing as well as embalming, was only officially classified as a carcinogen this past June.

2. Pipefitters
> Risk: mesothelioma
> Cause: asbestos
> Median annual wage: $46,660

Malignant mesothelioma is a life-threatening type of cancer commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos use peaked in 1973 in the U.S. ,but its use and has since declined by 99.8%, according to the American Lung Association. Because Mesothelioma can take 20 to 40 years to develop, it has only been in recent years that the disease has become extremely widespread. Some occupations, such as pipefitters, still put workers at risk of exposure. One Massachusetts developer was recently fined for neglecting to take precautions to ensure that workers would protected from airborne asbestos while removing pipes lined with the fiber. Other occupations that have seen highest rates of the illness are plumbers, mechanical engineers, electricians, and elementary school teachers who spent years in older buildings.

3. Concrete mixers
> Risk: silicosis
> Cause: silica
> Median annual wage: $43,850

Silicosis is a disabling respiratory disease caused by inhaling silica dust, which is used in the production of glass products, optical fibers, cement, and more. The disease can lead to “extreme shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pains, and respiratory failure, which can cause death,” reports the American Lung Association. More than one million workers are exposed to silica each year. The highest rate of silicosis deaths occur among so-called non-construction laborers and mining machine operators.

4. Pilots
> Risk: melanoma
> Cause: intense exposure to sunlight
> Median annual wage: $103,210

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and is related to sunlight exposure. Studies have shown that brief periods of high intensity exposure are more risky than long-term, lower intensity exposure, according to a report out of the UK on occupational mortality. The report shows that aircraft flight deck officers, including pilots, have an exceptionally high mortality rate from melanoma. The study notes that in addition to solar radiation, cosmic radiation exposure could be a contributing factor. A different study, conducted by Iceland’s University of Reykjavik, reports that airline pilots have up to 25 times the average rate of melanoma.