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Study spotlights high breast cancer risk for plastics workers

November 19, 2012
Carol Bristow
Breast cancer victim Carol Bristow, 54, has worked as a machine operator in a plastic auto parts factory in Windsor, Ontario, for 23 years. She believes on-the-job exposures to toxic fumes and dust played a role in her illness.

From the Center for Public Integrity:

For more than three decades, women working in the plastic automotive parts factories in Windsor, Ontario have complained of dreadful conditions in many of this city’s plants: Pungent fumes and dust that caused nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Blobs of smelly, smoldering plastic dumped directly onto the floor. "It was like hell," says one woman who still works in the industry.

"People were getting sick, but you never really thought about the plastic itself," said Gina DeSantis, who has worked at a plant near Windsor for 25 years.

Now, workers like DeSantis are the focal point of a new study that appears to strengthen the tie between breast cancer and toxic exposures.

The six-year study, conducted by a team of researchers from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, examined the occupational histories of over two thousand women from Ontario’s Essex and Kent counties who had or had not suffered from the disease.

The results, published online today in the journal Environmental Health, are striking: Women employed in the automotive plastics industry were almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in the control group.

Read the rest of the article by the Center for Public Integrity>>