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Occupational Aluminum Exposure and McIntyre Powder Update

When we look at any claim, we have to rely on the best scientific evidence available, information about the person’s illness, workplace exposures to chemicals and hazards and other relevant factors. As science evolves we’re always looking for new information that may help with this evidence-based decision making.

That’s why in August 2016 we asked researchers with Intrinsik to review the existing scientific evidence to see if people with occupational exposure to aluminum have an increased risk of developing adverse health conditions, including neurological conditions.

Read the plain language summary of the review (PDF) and the full report of the review (PDF). The Intrinsik report was revised in March 2018. For more information, see question four in our Q&A below.

The review did not find a link between aluminum exposure and the development of adverse health conditions in general.

However, there are still questions about the development of neurological conditions resulting from exposure to McIntyre Powder.

Further study of McIntyre Powder

Because we don’t want to leave any stone unturned, we are committed to exploring this issue further.

We engaged researchers from the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC), based at Cancer Care Ontario, to conduct a new independent study. This will provide us with a better understanding of the relationship between the use of McIntyre Powder in Ontario mines and the development of neurologic health outcomes in former miners.

The study will take approximately two years to complete and will be an important addition to the existing scientific literature on this topic. We will strive to move as quickly as possible while also being sure not to leave any stone unturned.

Questions and answers

Q1: What does this mean for people with pending claims for McIntyre Powder exposure who are waiting for a decision?

A: We are now  making decisions on these claims based on the findings of the Intrinsik review and other available evidence. We will be contacting those affected as soon as possible.

The WSIB policy on Occupational Aluminum Exposure, Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease and Other Neurologic Effects is no longer being used to guide decision-making. It has been rescinded and removed from the WSIB’s Operational Policy Manual (OPM). We will adjudicate these claims on a case-by-case basis.

For more information, people can call us at 416-344-1000 (TTY: 1-800-387-0050) or 1-800-387-0750, Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Q2: How can you expect people to wait several more years to get a decision on their claim?

A: We understand that it is disappointing for people to continue to wait for a decision. We are committed to doing all we can to explore this issue, which is why we have asked the OCRC for help and further investigation.

There is currently no consistent scientific evidence supporting a causal link between McIntyre Powder exposure and the development of neurological conditions and the OCRC will be conducting a new independent study. Options for those with claims for neurological conditions are:
  • to receive an interim decision now with a further review once the OCRC study results are received
  • to receive a final decision now with an immediate appeals option

Q3: What will the OCRC study examine?

A: The OCRC will conduct a new research study using the historical records included in the Mining Master File (MMF) which has information on over 90,000 workers in the Ontario mining industry. These documents are stored at the WSIB and contain information about the miners’ work history including exposure to McIntyre Powder.

This study will link the MMF records to provincial health records to see if there is an increased risk of neurological disease outcomes in Ontario miners who were exposed to McIntyre Powder compared to the general population.

Q4: Why did Intrinsik revise the report?

A: After the Intrinsik report was issued, as part of our ongoing research we obtained McIntyre Research Foundation (MRF) documents from the Archives of Ontario. A review of these documents revealed that the McIntyre Powder Exposure level in Ontario mines referred to in the report (353 mg/m3) was not accurate. As a result, Intrinsik revised the report to reflect the accurate exposure level (35.6 mg/m3). More details about the revision are provided in the report.

All decisions for occupational disease claims related to McIntyre Powder will be based on the exposure level information included in the revised report.

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