• For the Love of my Father

    (by Janice Hobbs Martell, McIntyre Powder Project Founder)

     

    I am a miner’s daughter and I never knew.  At the time that it was happening to Dad in the late 1970s – when he was locked in a room by his employer and had no choice but to breathe in extremely fine particles of airborne aluminum dust known as McIntyre Powder – he never spoke of it to his family. 

     

    Learning about this forced practice of industrial medical treatments decades later was horrifying, and it added to the helplessness that I already felt watching Dad struggle with Parkinson’s.  As pieces of him were slowly, progressively claimed by this unforgiving neurological disorder, it became more and more important to me to ensure that the history of McIntyre Powder and its use against industrial workers was documented.

     

    In August, 2021, New Solutions Journal published the story of McIntyre Powder, its impacts on my father’s life, and the work of the McIntyre Powder Project – as researched and written by me and my coauthor, Dr. Tee L. Guidotti. You can read the full article, Trading One Risk for Another, under the “Links” section of this website.

     

    The McIntyre Powder Project began out of love for my father, Jim Hobbs. It continues out of love and respect for all of the McIntyre Powder Project miners and their families, who have very much become family to me.   


  • McIntyre Powder and Silicosis History now available in print

    "Dust versus Dust: Aluminum Therapy and Silicosis in the Canadian and Global Mining Industries" - by Mica Jorgenson and John Sandlos

    The McIntyre Powder Project is thrilled to announce that the history of the McIntyre Powder aluminum prophylaxis program and its control by the northern Ontario mining industry is now documented in a thorough and well-researched article published in March 2021 in The Canadian Historical Review (Volume 102, Issue 1).  

    You can read this excellent article by clicking on "Dust vs. Dust" under the "Links" tab. 

    NOTE from McIntyre Powder Project Founder Janice Martell:  When I first began researching McIntyre Powder in 2011, an online search yielded two entries: the Sandra Rifat study found on this website, and a notation in the Mining Hall of Fame honouring McIntyre Porcupine Mine Manager R.J. Ennis for instituting the use of McIntyre Powder inhalation to address the problem of silicosis.  When I researched archival records from the McIntyre Research Foundation, the Ontario Mining Association, and relevant government entities, the control that the northern Ontario mining industry had over the McIntyre Powder story was pervasive.  The "Dust versus Dust" article offers a comprehensive review of the "quick fix" use of McIntyre Powder by the mining industry to combat silicosis, at an unknown cost to the health and lives of the miners and workers who were given no choice but to "breathe deep, boys!"
     

     


  • Use of McIntyre Powder in Western Australia Gold Mines

     

    NEW!  A review of archival records from the Government of Western Australia has enabled the McIntyre Powder Project to compile a list of Western Australia gold mines that historically were licenced to use McIntyre Powder aluminum dust in miners' change houses. Please see the list under "Resources". 

    Summary of McIntyre Powder use in Western Australia Gold Mines

    McIntyre Research Foundation (a group of mining executives and industrial physicians formed in Canada) granted license to the Government of Western Australia regarding the use of McIntyre Powder (aluminum dust) in WA gold mines.  The Department of Mines in Western Australia acted as a McIntyre Research Foundation agent, issuing sub-licences on behalf of the  Foundation to Western Australian gold mines.

    McIntyre Research Foundation shipped aluminum dust dispersal equipment (e.g. powder ejectors) and canisters of McIntyre Powder to WA gold mines in 1950, and once equipped, WA gold mines began the use of McIntyre Powder in miners’ changerooms in 1950 – by year’s end, 10 mines had commenced aluminum prophylaxis in 21 change houses, and 1450 men were taking the treatment. The 1952 Department of Mines Western Australia report indicated that 28 changerooms were using McIntyre Powder, and 2,387 men were licensed to receive treatment. By 1956, 25 mine changerooms were using it, and 2,757 men were taking the aluminum dust treatment. Fraser’s Mine began using McIntyre Powder in 1957, and Croesus Mine in 1958.  Officially, treatment was “voluntary” but practically, it was difficult to avoid exposure. 

    In 1964, a vote was held to determine if miners wanted to continue aluminum dust treatment, and the miners voted in favour of continuation.  However, by 1966, the Western Australia Department of Mines reported that “both management and labour show little interest in this treatment”. The annual Department of Mines reports indicated that in the late 1960s, aluminum therapy was available to the miners, but its use was in decline, noting “spasmodic and negligible” use by 1968. The last mention of aluminum therapy in the Department of Mines annual reports was in 1970 – simply noting that “Provision for the prophylactic treatment with aluminum powder was available at most gold mines”.

    4873 Western Australian gold miners had McIntyre Powder exposure documented on their miners’ work cards.

    (Sources: WA Government Archives; Department of Mines Western Australia annual reports)


  • Parkinson's related to McIntyre Powder exposure officially recognized as an Occupational Disease

    Parkinson's is now officially recognized by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) as an OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE for workers who were previously required to inhale McIntyre Powder (finely ground aluminum dust) on the job. 

    On June 23, 2020, the WSIB (the workers' compensation authority in Ontario, Canada) published an "Adjudicative approach document" on its website under "McIntyre Powder Update", to explain "how we make decisions about Parkinson's disease claims related to McIntyre Powder".  The initial paragraphs of this document are reproduced below, but the full document is available on the WSIB website.  

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR WORKERS OR THEIR ESTATES (Next-of Kin) in Ontario, Canada:

    If you were a mine or factory worker in Ontario, Canada with a diagnosis of Parkinson's, and you were exposed to McIntyre Powder during the course of your employment, you should file a workers' compensation claim with the Ontario WSIB.  If the worker is deceased, the worker's next-of-kin should file a WSIB claim on behalf of the Estate.  

    In cases where the worker or Estate is unsure about McIntyre Powder exposure, you are welcome to contact Janice Martell of the McIntyre Powder Project for assistance at 1-800-461-7120. 

    WHAT THIS MEANS FOR WORKERS OR THEIR ESTATES (Next-of Kin) anywhere else in the WORLD:

    McIntyre Powder was historically used (between 1943-1979) as a compulsory preventative medical treatment (prophylaxis) for workers in multiple workplaces in Canada, the United States, Western Australia, Belgian Congo, Mexico and Chile, plus an extended trial at Geevor Tin Mine in England. [Refer to list of known industrial licensees under our "RESOURCES" tab on this website].  McIntyre Powder was primarily used in industries (mines and factories) where workers were exposed to silica dust, on the unproven (since disproven) theory that inhaling finely ground aluminum dust would prevent the lung disease silicosis.  

    In March, 2020 an epidemiological data linkage study conducted by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) in Ontario, Canada, found an increased risk of Parkinson's and parkinsonism in Ontario miners related to McIntyre Powder exposure. A copy of this study can be found on the Occupational Cancer Research Centre website (https://www.occupationalcancer.ca/2020/mcintyre-powder-study/).

    If you were a mine or factory worker anywhere else in the WORLD with a diagnosis of Parkinson's, and you were exposed to McIntyre Powder during the course of your employment, you should contact your local workers' compensation authority to file a claim.  If the worker is deceased, the worker's next-of-kin should contact your local workers' compensation authority to file a claim on behalf of the Estate. 

    In cases where the worker or Estate is unsure about McIntyre Powder exposure, you are welcome to contact Janice Martell of the McIntyre Powder Project for assistance at 1-800-461-7120. 

     

    WSIB Adjudicative Approach Document highlights:

    "Initial entitlement

    The WSIB recognizes Parkinson’s disease resulting from occupational exposure to McIntyre Powder as an occupational disease.

    Initial entitlement is allowed for Parkinson’s disease that occurs due to the nature of one or more employments in which the worker was exposed to McIntyre Powder.

    Claims for initial entitlement for Parkinson’s disease will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. In all cases, entitlement decisions for Parkinson’s disease must be based on the merits and justice of the case, taking into account all of the facts and circumstances.

    Purpose

    The purpose of this adjudicative approach document is to provide entitlement guidelines for claims of Parkinson’s disease in Ontario miners with McIntyre Powder exposure.

    Guidelines

    Determining initial entitlement In determining the work-relatedness of Parkinson’s disease claims, the decision-maker will consider whether:

    1. the nature of the worker’s employment resulted in exposure to McIntyre Powder;

    2. the worker has an established diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease; and

    3. the exposure to McIntyre Powder preceded the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.

    If established, the above will generally be considered persuasive evidence that the worker’s employment made a significant contribution to the worker’s Parkinson’s disease."

    (Source: WSIB website, McIntyre Powder Update, accessed July 2, 2020: https://www.wsib.ca/en/mcintyre-powder-update)


  • Risk of Parkinson's Linked with McIntyre Powder Exposure

    On May 7, 2020, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) released the results of a March 12, 2020 study conducted by Paul Demers and colleagues of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC).  

    The study found an increased risk of Parkinson's and parkinsonism among McIntyre Powder-exposed miners in Ontario, Canada. 

    The study also found an increased risk of Alzheimer's and motor neuron disease associated with miners overall in Ontario, Canada.  This would be of particular interest to anyone diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), since the researchers noted that 70% of all motor neuron disease cases are ALS. 

    The study concluded: "This study found an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease associated with exposure to McIntyre Powder among Ontario miners, in comparison to both unexposed miners and the general population of Ontario. The risk appeared to increase with duration of exposure and was stronger for people exposed after 1956, when the formulation was changed to decrease the particle sizes. The association was also stronger for gold miners than uranium miners. No association was found between McIntyre Powder exposure and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or motor neuron disease, although miners overall had an increased risk compared to the general population. These other associations deserve further research to identify whether they may be related to other suspected neurological hazards in mining." (INVESTIGATION OF MCINTYRE POWDER EXPOSURE AND NEUROLOGICAL OUTCOMES IN THE MINING MASTER FILE COHORT: FINAL REPORT - Occupational Cancer Research Centre, March 12, 2020). 

    Between 1943 and 1979-80, employees at many mines, factories, and industries were required by their employers to inhale McIntyre Powder (finely ground aluminum dust) each work shift, on the unproven theory (since disproven) that it would prevent the lung disease silicosis.  McIntyre Powder was used in mines and factories in Canada, United States, Western Australia, Mexico, Chile, and the Belgian Congo, plus Geevor Tin Mine in England.  For a list of known industries that were licensed to use McIntyre Powder, see our "Resources" tab. 

    If you (or your deceased loved one) worked in mining, factories, or industries where McIntyre Powder may have been used and you have Parkinson's or parkinsonism, you may be eligible for workers' compensation, or your Estate may be eligible for survivor benefits. Contact the local workers' compensation authority in the province/state/country where you (or your loved one) worked. In Ontario, Canada, you can make a claim by contacting the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) at: 1-800-387-0750.  

    If you (or your deceased loved one) worked in mining in Ontario and you are/were diagnosed with Alzheimer's or motor neuron disease (particularly ALS), you may also wish to contact the Ontario WSIB to make a claim. 

    For further information, you are welcome to contact the McIntyre Powder Project founder, Janice Martell, at 1-800-461-7120. 



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