Federal responsibilities toward cancer prevention from risks associated with environmental carcinogens

Petition: 372

Issue(s): Compliance and enforcement, human/environmental health, science and technology, toxic substances

Petitioner(s): Resident of Canada

Petitioner Location(s): Edson, Alberta

Date Received: 6 February 2015

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition concerns the presence of carcinogens in the industrial and natural environments and the risks they pose to human health. The petition questions what the federal government is doing to reduce the risk of exposure to carcinogens in order to prevent cancers including osteosarcoma.

More specifically, the petition asks what actions the federal government is taking to stop the production of chemical carcinogens, prevent further contamination, and remove these substances from the environment. It also questions the actions that the government is taking to educate the general public about the risks of exposure to natural sources of carcinogens such as radon, and to reduce and monitor the use of X-rays and other medical procedures that the petition asserts may pose long-term and cumulative risks. In addition, the petition asks what Canada is doing to track the environmental exposure of cancer victims, especially children, to carcinogens and to record their medical history.

The petition also questions how the government is evaluating the cumulative exposures and synergistic impacts of various carcinogens or potentially harmful chemicals. The petition urges the federal government to provide or require funding for research and enforceable regulations to prevent the risk of cancer.

The petition requests a list of potential and confirmed human carcinogens. While the petition notes that the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment has compiled a list for its National Classification System for Contaminated Sites (2008), the petition asserts that this list contains only 31 potential and 12 confirmed human carcinogens, while US government sources list hundreds more.

With regard to oversight of industry, the petition asks if the federal government will require industry to demonstrate the long-term safety of their products through independent research and compulsory reporting of research findings. The petition seeks clarification about the government’s actions to protect children from exposure to manufactured chemicals or natural conditions that may pose a cancer risk. Finally, it asks if potential carcinogens will be taken off the market until their safety is proven.

Federal departments responsible for reply: Environment Canada, Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada