I have read in many places online that neoprene coated dumbbells may cause cancer. Just how carcinogenic are they? Would normal use of said dumbbells (say less than one hour per day) be of any risk?


I just bought a 32 lb neoprene dumbbell set and took it out the package and noticed a warning on the bottom: "This product contains one or more chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and other reproductive harm."

  • Well, they don't smell very good. Obviously beside the point though! I would be interested in seeing an answer as well because I'm wondering if it's actually the coating or if it's what gives it it's weight.
    – L.B.
    Feb 2, 2017 at 15:09
  • 3
    Possible duplicate of Safety of using a luggage with the prop. 65 warning
    – Mark
    Feb 8, 2017 at 1:48
  • No problem if you do not live in CA. Sep 16, 2020 at 15:44

1 Answer 1


The chemical name for neoprene is polychloroprene and is a polymer of chloroprene. Chloroprene is suspected of causing cancer, but that does not mean that its polymer causes cancer. For instance, ethylene is a gas used to ripen, among other things, bananas, but its polymer--poylyethylene--is the basis of many plastics; ethylene and polyethylene are nothing alike, just like chloroprene and polychloroprene.

If some substance does not cause cancer, it's highly unlikely that you will find literature that expressly states that.

That example you cite is most likely referring to the chloroprene in neoprene. However, that chloroprene is tightly locked up inside its polymer. It would take a strong chemical (stronger that your sweat) to unbind the chloroprene in neoprene.

  • 1
    The study you found is about chloroprene, not polychloroprene. There's a big difference in potential carcinogenity: the long-chain molecules of the poly form make it much less reactive. As an analogy, inhaling powdered sandstone will give you silicosis; trying to inhale a sandstone boulder will just make you look silly.
    – Mark
    Feb 8, 2017 at 1:52
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    @Mark, you are absolutely correct. How I made such a stupid mistake is beyond me, as I do know the difference between a chemical and its polymers; they are nothing alike. I have edited my answer accordingly. My apologies to anyone who may have read this.
    – BillDOe
    Feb 16, 2017 at 0:09

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