OCRC Report: Burden of occupational cancer in Canada – Major workplace carcinogens and prevention of exposure

Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada presents estimates of occupational exposure and the associated burden of cancer by industry, as well as exposure reduction strategies for the most common occupational carcinogens in Canada. A major feature of the report is the evidence-based policy recommendations directed at government, occupational health and safety systems, employers and non-governmental organizations.

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

Key findings of the report include:

  • Collectively, exposure to cancer-causing agents in the workplace is estimated to cause approximately 10,000 cancers in Canada each year. The 13 occupational carcinogens featured in this report contribute to the bulk of these.
  • Solar radiation, asbestos, diesel engine exhaust and crystalline silica had the largest estimated impact on cancer burden and also the highest number of Canadian workers exposed.
    • Solar Radiation: Approximately 1.4 million Canadian workers are exposed, causing an estimated 4,600 non-melanoma skin cancer cases per year.
    • Asbestos: Just over 150,000 workers are exposed but it is estimated to cause 1,900 lung cancers, 430 mesotheliomas, 45 laryngeal cancers and 15 ovarian cancers annually.
    • Diesel Engine Exhaust: About 897,000 workers are exposed and every year it accounts for 560 lung and 200 suspected bladder cancer cases.
    • Crystalline Silica: An estimated 382,000 Canadian workers are exposed to crystalline silica, which annually causes almost 570 lung cancer cases.
  • Through policy changes and workplace-based measures there are many opportunities to reduce the burden of occupational cancer across Canada.