Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Metals, arsenic, dusts and fibres: Workers’ Compensation and Prevention concerns

I’ve written about the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in an earlier blog post. IARC recently released a reassessment of the previously classified Group 1 carcinogens to identify additional tumour sites. The assessment will be published in apart C of Volume 100 of the IARC Monographs.
A news story in The Lancet (Vol 10 May 2009) carried a table that lists Group 1 agents, Tumour sites for which there is sufficient evidence in humans and other sites with limited evidence in humans as well as the established mechanic events that lead to cancers in humans. Among the Group 1 agents are metals and their compounds (Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Nickel), Asbestos, Erionite, Silica Dust, Leather dust and Wood dust.
While the more or less usual associations between Asbestos and Lung Cancers, Silica and Lung Cancers, and Wood dust and nasal cavity are displayed in the table, the column on “other sites with limited evidence bears note. The connections between Prostate cancers and both Arsenic and Cadmium, for example, may be significant.
What occupations are likely to be exposed to these substances? In some cases, the industry and occupation will be obvious. It may be, however, that too little is known about where these exposures are occurring. It raises questions about the responsibility workers’ compensation and prevention agencies have in alerting industries and occupations of the potential risk to workers. Medical surveillance mechanisms may be needed and perhaps active information initiatives to ensure both prevention and compensation priorities are met.
For more information, I recommend a close review of the links noted above.

1 comment:

Billy Quirke said...

CAREX Canada provides a nice resources, estimating that approx 25,000 Canadians are exposed to arsenic at work, with exposures arising primarily from sawmills and wood preservation operations (particularly relevant for BC & QC). Further investigation into prostate cancer links in these male-dominated industries seems warranted indeed (if it does not already exist!).. http://www.carexcanada.ca/en/arsenic/

Cd occupational exposure estimates are available as well, to the tune of approx 31, 000 Canadians http://www.carexcanada.ca/en/cadmium/