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Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario: Burden of Occupational Cancer

Oct 2017
Data Type: Risk Factors
Publication Series: Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario

Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario is the sixth report in the Cancer Risk Factors in Ontario series. This report focuses on the most common carcinogens found in Ontario workplaces and their contribution to occupational cancer. Occupational exposures are preventable yet still remain a substantial and often overlooked contributor to cancer. The report includes evidence-based policy recommendations for government, Ontario’s occupational health and safety system, employers and non-governmental organizations.

Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario was jointly produced by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre and our Population Health and Prevention unit, with input from experts on scientific content and policy recommendations. The occupational carcinogen exposure estimates were provided by CAREX Canada.

Highlights of the Report

  • Solar radiation, asbestos, diesel engine exhaust and crystalline silica had the largest estimated impact on cancer burden and also the highest number of Ontario workers exposed
    • Solar Radiation: Approximately 450,000 Ontario workers are exposed, causing an estimated 1,400 non-melanoma skin cancer cases per year
    • Asbestos: Fewer than 55,000 workers are exposed but it is estimated to cause 630 lung cancers, 140 mesotheliomas, 15 laryngeal cancers and less than five ovarian cancers annually
    • Diesel Engine Exhaust: About 301,000 workers are exposed every year and it accounts for 170 lung and 45 bladder cancer cases
    • Crystalline Silica: An estimated 142,000 Ontario workers are exposed to crystalline silica, which annually causes almost 200 lung cancer cases
  • Through policy changes and workplace-based measures there are many opportunities to reduce the burden of occupational cancer in Ontario.