On 4 October 2017, the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) in Toronto has published a report on work-related cancer in Ontario. The study identified solar radiation, asbestos, diesel-engine exhaust and crystalline silica as the four major causes of work-related cancer in Canada’s most populous province.
About 450,000 Ontarians are exposed to solar radiation on the job, the study revealed, while approximately 301,000 workers in the province are exposed to diesel-engine exhaust and about 142,000 are exposed to crystalline silica.
Fewer than 55,000 workers are exposed to asbestos, but the report finds it is the cause of approximately 630 lung cancers, 140 mesotheliomas, 15 laryngeal cancers and less than five ovarian cancers annually in Ontario. Most occupational exposure occurs in construction, primarily due to the maintenance, renovation and modification of existing public, residential and commercial buildings.
Titled Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario: Major Workplace Carcinogens and Prevention of Exposure, the 60-page report stated that diesel-engine exhaust in workplaces causes an estimated 170 lung-cancer cases and 45 bladder-cancer cases in Ontario each year, while crystalline silica accounts for nearly 200 cases of occupational lung cancer. Workers’ exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation causes an estimated 1,400 non-melanoma skin cancer cases annually.
The authors made several general policy recommendations to reduce occupational cancer cases in Ontario, including strengthening occupational exposure limits, establishing exposure registries and surveillance and reducing the use of toxic substances.