The National Toxicology Program, or NTP, released its 15th report on carcinogens last month, adding eight new substances to a growing list of recognized cancer-causing agents found in many consumer products and water supplies.

Among the new additions are a bacterium, a flame retardant, and six byproducts from water purification, bringing the total number of listed carcinogens up to 256. Other substances and activities listed include HIV and cobalt, which were added in 2016, as well as tobacco smoking, solar radiation, mustard gas, and asbestos.

The NTP’s congressionally mandated reports on carcinogens, intended to “help people make informed decisions about their own health,” are published periodically for the secretary of Health and Human Services as new information becomes available. The new report was released as the U.S. marked the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act, legislation that then-President Richard Nixon said would initiate a national “war on cancer” — by then the nation’s second leading cause of death.

According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer still sits in second place as a leading cause of mortality for U.S. residents, killing nearly 600,000 people each year. “Cancer affects almost everyone’s life, either directly or indirectly,” said Rick Woychik, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the NTP, in a statement. Only heart disease claims more Americans’ lives every year. In 2020, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death.

Although the NTP’s reports on carcinogen do not directly determine public policy, they can inform it indirectly by helping policymakers identify substances in need of regulation. They “provide important information to members of Congress, regulatory agencies, and others who can use it to make informed decisions that protect the health of U.S. residents,” Ruth Lunn, director of the Office of the Report on Carcinogens, told Grist.

Read the full article about carcinogens by Joseph Winters at Grist.