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Learning From The Past: Reflecting On The Radon Tragedy In Elliot Lake

By Dr. Fergal Nolan

The single biggest case of deaths directly related to radon exposure in Canada happened as far back as the 1970s and 1980s, when at least 220 miners in Elliot Lake, Ontario died of lung cancer from years of exposure in the town's uranium mines.

The Elliot Lake tragedy ultimately compelled the United Steelworkers union to go on strike in 1974. The result led to the appointment of the Ham Commission, which helped pass one of the most significant pieces of worker health and safety legislation in Ontario five years later with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. 

Dangers of Exposure

Under the terms of the Act, the Workers Safety Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB) accepted the claims of the 220 miners based on the hazardous working conditions in the mines. The Steelworkers union believes the true number of deaths is actually much higher, based on its knowledge of those who were thought to have suffered from exposure, and the number of actual claims filed with the WSIB. Their plight helped sound the alarm about the dangers of the invisible and odourless gas, which quietly damages the lungs over years of exposure.

Complete article in Personal Health News

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United Steelworkers
234 Eglinton Ave. E., 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M4P 1K7