HOW TO REGISTER FOR THE McINTYRE POWDER PROJECT INTAKE CLINICS
HOW TO REGISTER: Call Janice Martell at 1-800-461-7120
NOTE from Janice: Due to my employment hours (which support my family and fund the work of the McIntyre Powder Project), on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., you will reach my voice mail. If you reach my voice mail at any other time, I am likely helping other mine workers or their survivors with the pre-registration process. Please leave a voice mail message, including your name and phone number, and I will call you back as soon as I am able to, OR please try calling me at another time. Thank you so much!
WHO CAN REGISTER?
ALL mine workers (miners, electricians, mechanics, millwrights, crusher house & mill workers, etc.) or other workers (e.g. Ministry of Labour mine inspectors) who were exposed to McIntyre Powder aluminum dust at ANY mine (not just McIntyre mine) can still register with OHCOW (Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers) to be part of this study on the health effects of aluminum dust.
DECEASED MINE WORKERS: Deceased mine workers who were exposed to the aluminum dust can be registered by their next-of-kin (some legal documents may need to be provided).
INCAPACITATED MINE WORKERS: Incapacitated mine workers who were exposed to the aluminum dust can be registered by their guardian/caregivers (e.g. whoever has Power of Attorney).
WHAT WILL REGISTERING DO?
Registering will open a file for the mine worker at OHCOW (Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers), and will add the worker's story to the overall picture of the types of health issues suffered by workers who were exposed to aluminum dust.
** For more information about OHCOW’s role at the McIntyre Powder Project Intake Clinics, see the June 10, 2016 “News” posting on this website titled: “OHCOW Statement on McIntyre Powder Intake Clinics”.**
Details on the Next McIntyre Powder Project Intake Clinic:
WHEN? Monday, October 3, 2016 and Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Clinic Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE? United Steelworkers Hall, 66 Brady Street, Sudbury, Ontario
OPSEU Bus - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has generously sponsored a coach bus on both days of the Sudbury Intake Clinics. The bus will leave from AJ Bus Lines lot in Blind River, Ontario at 8 a.m. sharp and will pick up Intake Clinic participants at the Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre parking lot in Elliot Lake, Ontario for 9 a.m. departure to Sudbury. The bus will stop at Tim Horton's restaurant in Sudbury at approximately 11 a.m. for a meal break (at your own cost - you are also welcome to pack a lunch). The bus is expected to arrive by 12 noon or before at the Steelworkers Hall in Sudbury for the Intake Clinic. The bus will leave the Steelworkers Hall for the return trip at 4 p.m. sharp. Thanks to OPSEU Provincial office, OPSEU Region 6 office, and OPSEU Local 604 in Elliot Lake, coach bus transportation will be provided FREE to Intake Clinic participants and their support persons. RESERVED SEATING ONLY ON THE BUS. To Reserve your seat on the OPSEU bus, call Janice Martell at 1-800-461-7120 to pre-register for the Sudbury Intake Clinic. Please notify Janice that you require a seat on the OPSEU bus when you pre-register for the Sudbury Intake Clinic. Thank you!
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT JANICE MARTELL AT 1-800-461-7120.
OHCOW AT THE McINTYRE POWDER INTAKE CLINICS
The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) are a system of seven clinics founded and directed by the labour movement and funded through the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Prevention Office. Clinics are staffed by teams of nurses, contract physicians, ergonomists, hygienists, and client service coordinators. OHCOW provides prevention services, including assessments of whether health conditions may be work-related.
Silicosis is a disabling and often deadly lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust. It was also a major source of worker’s compensation costs for the mining industry. Doctors working with the McIntyre mine in Timmins, ON thought that miners would be protected from silicosis if they inhaled so-called McIntyre Powder (finely ground Aluminum dust) before their shifts. Starting in the 1940s, the company forced its miners – as a condition of employment – to undergo daily “treatments” by closing off the change room and fogging it with Aluminum dust using compressed air lines.
The rights to make and license the use of McIntyre Powder Aluminum dust were later given to a non-profit foundation that spread the practice to other mines in Ontario and beyond. Many scientists rejected the idea from the start, and it is now generally accepted that there was no benefit to the thousands of workers who were forced to accept the “treatments” or lose their jobs.
ALUMINUM IS TOXIC
There is no evidence that Aluminum has any role in the normal biology of plants or animals. In acidic soils or water, it can harm or kill plants, fish and other aquatic life. At best, some plants are resistant to its toxic effects, and at low levels of exposure, animals can excrete enough from their bodies to avoid serious illness or death.
ALUMINUM AND HUMAN HEALTH
In this, humans are no different from other animals. Unlike other metals like Iron, Copper or Zinc, there is no recommended daily allowance of Aluminum. It plays no role in normal human biology. Scientists agree that Aluminum exposure can cause anemia and several different bone disorders. Inhaled Aluminum particles can cause lung problems, and in the past, high levels of Aluminum unknowingly put directly into the bloodstream of dialysis patients caused dementias similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
It is still controversial whether lower levels of Aluminum exposure can cause neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Lab experiments show that Aluminum damages human and animal brain tissue and that high levels of Aluminum can be found in the bones and brains of people with neurological diseases. But there is no general scientific agreement that Aluminum causes or contributes to these conditions. It is not an easy question. Even a single cigarette is toxic and may cause a coughing fit, but it won’t cause emphysema. When is the line crossed?
HEALTH EFFECTS OF McINTYRE POWDER
The health effects of inhaled McIntyre powder on bones, lungs, brains and other organs have been studied very little. The only published scientific study of northern Ontario miners was done over 25 years ago – in 1990. The authors of this study found cognitive problems that increased with the length of Aluminum dust exposure. A later study of Australian miners found a possible link to increased cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. But high quality, large scale follow-up studies have never been done. Although miners were forced to undergo experimental treatments with Aluminum dust, the possible side effects have not been fully explored.
McINTYRE POWDER INTAKE CLINICS
“Intake clinics” in Timmins, ON (May 11-12, 2016) and Sudbury, ON (October 3-4, 2016) are being set up by the United Steelworkers with the help of a community group called the McIntyre Powder Project, and the Office of the Worker Adviser. OHCOW’s role is to conduct examinations and collect information about the work and medical histories of miners, including deceased miners, who were exposed to McIntyre Powder treatments if they or their families believe it may have caused health problems.
These are not easy cases. Other exposures at work (like other metals or chemicals that are neurotoxic, or acids that make Aluminum more toxic) are relevant. Family genetics or exposure to Aluminum outside work might also help explain how work exposures did or did not help to cause a disease. And because Aluminum can be stored in bones and then released years later, lifetime exposures must be explored.
Information from the clinics will be reviewed by OHCOW staff and physicians with support from other experts to see what current science can tell us and to decide whether individual medical testing or group research projects could tell us more. Individual reports will be provided whenever possible and general information will be made public. But that will take some time.
It is now more than 35 years since McIntyre Powder was last used in Ontario mines. Despite advances in laboratory testing, further research in this area is difficult because the miners with the highest levels of Aluminum dust exposure have already passed away. It is impossible to predict the results of OHCOW’s work, but miners and their families are entitled to whatever answers can be found.
McIntyre Powder Project Intake Clinic: May 11 & 12, 2016 in Timmins, Ontario
WHAT & WHY: McIntyre Powder Project Intake Clinic - The purpose of the Intake Clinic is to study the health effects of McIntyre Powder aluminum dust on the mine and mill workers who were exposed to it (between 1943 and 1980). Many of these workers are deceased or are incapacitated with health problems, in which case their survivors and/or legal caregivers are eligible to participate in the Intake Clinic on the worker's behalf. At the Intake Clinic, information will be gathered about the worker's health, work history, workplace exposures, and memories of their experiences with McIntyre Powder aluminum dust in the mines. The primary objective is to better understand the types and incidence of health issues experienced by these workers, to investigate whether there may be a link between health problems and occupational aluminum dust exposure.
The Intake Clinic is a collaborative effort, organized by United Steelworkers District 6 (USW), the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers (OHCOW), the Office of the Worker Advisor (OWA), and the McIntyre Powder Project. The Clinic is also supported by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Medical staff from OHCOW will be on site to review and discuss health concerns. Adjudicators from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will be present at the Intake Clinic to initiate compensation claims in cases where worker illness may be associated with workplace exposures.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. & Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Ramada Inn (ballroom), 1800 Riverside Drive, Timmins, Ontario
WHO: Gold and uranium miners and mill workers who were exposed to McIntyre Powder aluminum dust OR their Survivors (in the case of deceased workers) OR their legal caregivers (in the case of incapacitated workers).
HOW TO REGISTER: For further information or to Pre-Register for the McIntyre Powder Project Intake Clinic, please contact Janice Martell at 1-800-461-7120, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Walk-Ins are welcome, but pre-registration is encouraged in order to best assist participants.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Participants of the Intake Clinic can expect to spend about 3 hours to complete the full process. Participants are welcome to bring support persons with them to the Clinic. A rest and refreshment area will be available after 10 a.m. each day. There will also be an information table hosted by the McIntyre Powder Project, which will include a memorial album that families of deceased mine workers can contribute stories and photos of their loved ones. Visitors can also review some historical documents about the McIntyre Powder aluminum dust program. Local and national media are expected to be present at the Intake Clinic at various times.
It is anticipated that many former Timmins community members will be returning to participate in the Intake Clinic. Former miners and survivors are flying in from as far away as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and the Yukon!
On September 18, 1979, CBC's the Fifth Estate aired a "Powder Keg" story on the McIntyre Powder aluminum dust inhalation program in the mining industry. After 36 years of employer-mandated and government-sanctioned aluminum dust inhalation "therapy" in the mining industry, the broadcast of the Fifth Estate program brought to light what mining Unions had been protesting against for years. The practice of aluminum dust inhalation in the mining industry ended within a few months of the Fifth Estate Program.
The effects of the aluminum dust did not.
Watch the Fifth Estate on CBC television on Friday, January 29, 2016 at 9 p.m. (check local listings) for a follow-up story 37 years later on the aluminum dust issue and the McIntyre Powder Project. Featuring stories about the long-term health effects on mine workers who were forced to inhale aluminum dust as a condition of their employment. See the original 1979 Fifth Estate Program and a preview of the 2016 Fifth Estate update story under the "Links" drop-down menu.
The McIntyre Powder Project is happy to announce that a new team member, Calvin Hinds, has joined us for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Calvin is a student in the Labour Studies Program at Laurentian University. He will be doing outreach work for the McIntyre Powder Project at the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Calvin will be bound by a confidentiality agreement with OHCOW, and he is eager to contribute his talents and enthusiasm to the work of the Project.
Calvin will be working with the OHCOW team to raise awareness about the McIntyre Powder Project and document health issues experienced by miners who had to breathe aluminum dust. Welcome Calvin!!