Exposure to Carcinogens in the Ontario Mining Sector

Publication Type: 
Conference Proceedings
Industrial Hygiene
Mine Ventilation

Presented at the 2014 WSN Mining Health and Safety Conference

Paul Demers
Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario

Victoria Arrandale
Senior Research Associate
Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario

The Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) was established in 2009 and is the first research centre in Canada to focus on the relationship between workplace exposure and the development of cancer. The OCRC is a unique partnership jointly funded by Cancer Care Ontario, the Ministry of Labour, and the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division and was developed in collaboration with the United Steelworkers. The centre is housed at Cancer Care Ontario, led by Director Dr. Paul Demers, and is supported by a Steering Committee, composed of representatives of the funders, industry, labour, and researchers.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified nearly 60 occupational exposures as definite or probable human carcinogens and over a hundred more as suspected carcinogens. OCRC researchers are particularly interested in exposure to carcinogens in the Ontario mining sector, but there is no centralized database of exposure measurements from mines in Ontario, and therefore no easy way to examine patterns or trends in these exposures. To help fill this gap, the OCRC is working to create a database of exposure measurements collected in mines in Ontario. In collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety North and Laurentian University, we have collected over 100,000 measurements for at least 17 hazardous exposures, such as silica, arsenic, and radon that occurred from approximately 1970 to 1990.  They are now seeking additional exposure measurements from other organizations for inclusion in the database. This data will be used for several purposes including the examination of trends in mining exposures over time, identifying prevention priorities, and improving the assessment of exposure in studies of Ontario miners.