Exposure assessment for women’s occupational exposure to carcinogens and other hazardous substances

Studies that have evaluated workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals and associated health outcomes have traditionally focused on men in male dominated jobs such as manufacturing and other heavy industries. Consequently, women weren’t generally included in the earlier studies and the industries in which they worked weren’t regarded as important. This, in turn, negatively affected women’s access to workers’ compensation compared with men, especially with respect to injuries, stress and lung diseases from asbestos. However, the research focus has recently shifted to include the changing role of women in the workplace and subsequent hazardous materials exposure that might adversely affect their health. The CAREX study, currently underway in Canada, is a national surveillance project aimed at estimating the number of Canadians exposed to environmental and workplace carcinogens. Cheryl Peter’s research will augment the CAREX project by looking at how these types of exposures differ between men and women. Her study identifies research gaps in women’s occupational health in general, and industries or jobs where women are more susceptible to exposures or adverse health outcomes specifically. The results of this study will help improve the health of female workers by identifying women at higher risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, and may also help to prevent future health problems, including cancer. Further, Ms. Peter’s data will inform researchers with respect to improved research methods and recommendations on improvements for future studies, accounting for differences in exposures on the job between men and women.