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Encompassing 14 % of Québec workers, night work is the most common cause of work-related cancer, according to a report published in May 2017 by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST).

The other occupational carcinogenic substances or circumstances to which Québec workers are most exposed are solar radiation (6.6 %), diesel engine emissions (4.9 %), mineral oils (2.4 %), benzene (2.1 %), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (2.0 %), silica (2.0 %), wood dust (1.9 %), lead or its inorganic compounds (1.6 %) and ionising radiation (1.2 %).

The sectors in which over 50 000 workers are exposed to carcinogens are manufacturing, transport and warehousing, and health care and social care.

Workers in manufacturing, building and other services (especially repair and maintenance services, personal services, laundry services, etc.), and health and social care can potentially be exposed to more than 20 carcinogens.

A breakdown of the data by sex reveals that women are more likely to be exposed to carcinogens in the health and social care sector, including night work, ionising radiation, cytostatic agents (medicines that are toxic to cells) and solar radiation.

Men are most likely to be at risk in the following sectors: farming, forestry, fisheries and hunting, mining, oil and gas industries, building, public services, manufacturing, and transport and warehousing. These sectors are characterised, in particular, by night work, solar radiation and diesel engine emissions.

Labrèche F. et al. (2017) Exposition des travailleurs québécois à des cancérogènes. Industries et groupes professionnels, IRSST.