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At Work

This section is under development … in the meantime, we offer two important resources, and some tips.

Two important sources of information are: the Canadian Occupational Cancer Research Centre, including its report on the Burden of Occupational Cancer in Canada; and CAREX Canada.

Some Cancer Prevention Tips for the Workplace

  1. Ensure you never take workplace toxicants home with you. Shower and change clothes at work, and wash work clothes separately. Don’t expose children to chemical residues that could be present in vehicles that are used for work.
  2. Take precautionary measures at work to avoid taking in airborne or other toxicants. This includes working with rubber, plastics, cement, lead, formaldehyde, pesticides, strong drugs, cleaners, etc. Consult management to ensure that adequate ventilation is in place, personal protective equipment (PPE) is available, safe and healthy practices are in place, and improvements are implemented as they become available.
  3. Keep a diary over the years of your work sites, tasks and exposures. Future research might identify links between your work and a future health concern, in which case your records would be important.
  4. Chemical fragrance stinks. Avoid purchasing goods containing artificial “fragrance”. Thousands of undisclosed chemicals go into cosmetics and consumer goods—and some are pretty nasty.
  5. Go fragrance-free and ditch the perfumes and scented personal care products. The “fragrance” is generally a toxic mixture of many chemicals (some of which have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity). Phthalates, chemicals to make the scent last longer, have been shown to disrupt the human endocrine (hormonal) system. This can contribute to breast and prostate cancers – the most common cancers in women and men respectively.
  6. Ask about and Act on Asbestos. This fire-proof material had many uses, and can lurk in your home and workplace. Airborne fibres, from insulation material breaking down or renovations, can lodge in tissues. Asbestos is the leading cause of work-related lung cancer and death. Asbestos can be found in many places, but can only be detected if examined under a microscope. It was used in many building components (floors, walls, ceilings, roofs) until the 1980s, and contaminated vermiculite insulation until the 1990s. Asbestos is being banned, but it continues to be used in imported brake pads, and some concrete pipes. There is no safe use of asbestos. Removal is a job for a professional.
  7. Avoid the antibacterial chemicals triclosan and triclocarban. Washing your hands with plain soap is just as effective — and plain soap does NOT promote antibiotic-resistant germs! Triclosan and triclocarban are in many products including antibacterial detergents, soaps, creams, toothpaste, mouthwash, clothing, shopping bags, counter tops and even plastics (e.g. microban®). These hormone-mimicking chemicals can pass through the skin and promote cancers. Sewage plants don’t completely remove these chemicals, and in waterways triclosan forms dioxins (that can also cause cancer). Triclosan is commonly found in Canadians’ urine . Watch for “triclo…” ingredients, and purchase alternative products.
  8. Use white distilled vinegar and water to clean your home and office. It is a mild disinfectant, and cleaning eliminates many odours.
  9. Regular sleep is important for health, and shift work has been identified as a carcinogen. Try to arrange a consistent schedule and adequate time between shift time changes. Consult a medical practitioner regarding melatonin supplementation.