Background: We estimated the extent of exposure to occupational carcinogens in Quebec, Canada, to help raise awareness of occupational cancers.
Methods: Proportions of workers exposed to 21 recognized and 17 probable carcinogens (according to Quebec occupational health regulation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] classification) were extracted from various sources: workplace monitoring data, research projects, a population survey, radiation protection data, exposure estimates from the Carcinogen Exposure Canada (CAREX Canada) Project database, and published exposure data. These proportions were applied to Quebec labor force data.
Results: Among the 38 studied, carcinogens with the largest proportions of exposed workers were solar radiation (6.6% of workers), night shift work/rotating shift work including nights (6.0%), diesel exhaust fumes (4.4%), wood dust (2.9%) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (2.0%). More than 15 carcinogens were identified in several industrial sectors, and up to 100,000 young workers are employed in these sectors.
Conclusion: Although crude, estimates obtained with different data sources allow identification of research and intervention priorities for cancer in Quebec.
Keywords: cancer prevention; exposure assessment; intervention priorities; occupational carcinogens.
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