McIntyre Powder was finely ground aluminium powder which miners had to inhale in dozens of Canadian mines, and in others around the world from 1943 to 1979

McIntyre Powder was finely ground aluminium powder which miners had to inhale in dozens of Canadian mines, and in others around the world from 1943 to 1979
Photo Credit: Claude Martell

Were you a miner? McIntyre powder update

Ontario gov’t pledges $1 million for research

After years of effort by a miner’s daughter, it’s starting to have an effect.

Janice Martell was the daughter of a miner in northern Ontario. He was one of thousands of miners in Ontario, and several other countries around the world who regularly had to inhale “McIntyre Powder”.

The black aluminium powder miners were obliged to inhale. *They had no choice* says Martel
The black aluminium powder miners were obliged to inhale. *They had no choice* says Martell © Facebook: McIntyre Project

It was a finely-ground aluminium powder blown into miner’s changerooms before their shifts in the theory that coating their lungs would prevent the typical miner’s disease of silicosis, and thus save the mine’s from potential health related lawsuits.

Martell’s father, later developed Parkinson’s and many other miners developed similar neurological problems.  She believes the conditions were connected to the breathing of the powder.

Janice Martell with her late father Jim Hobbs. He was exposed to McIntyre Powder which they believe is connected to his developing Parkinson’s disease in his later years
Janice Martell with her late father Jim Hobbs. He was exposed to McIntyre Powder which they believe is connected to his developing Parkinson’s disease in his later years © supplied

The Ministry of Labour originally estimated about 10,000 miners were exposed to the product through about 45 mines in Ontario licensed to use the powder.

However the Occupational Cancer Research Centre conducting a study on neurological disorders and the powder says some 27,000 were exposed between approximately 1943 to 1979.

The product was also shipped to mines in several other countries as well.

The provincial Minstry of Labour will fund work by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) to create a team to review health information about miners who were exposed to the dust. This may help to establish a link between health issues and the powder.

The information  comes from clinics the agency held for miners across the country.

Until 1979, miners change rooms before each shift were clouded with the fine dust pumped in through the ventilation system. Miners were told to inhale deeply.
Until 1979, miners change rooms before each shift were clouded with the fine dust pumped in through the ventilation system. Miners were told to inhale deeply. © CBC

Marcelle Crouse, Acting Chief Prevention Officer for the Ministry of Labour said in a press release yesterday, “Mine workers can be exposed to a number of contaminants leading to occupational disease. This grant will help support and expand OHCOW’s capacity and expertise to address occupational illnesses as it relates to issues with miners past and present”.

With the OHCOW  information including miner’s health history, the  Ministry of Labour said the miners could use the information from the analysis to make claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for potential compensation.

Janice Martell, who has been working full time on the project to gather miner’s information, says she is grateful for the financial boost, noting that it will help fund a team to process the large volume of information gathered during the 2016 clinics.

However, while that may help future claimants, the miners who made previous claims to the WSIB and were denied, will not have their cases re-opened.

Marty Warren, United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario and Atlantic Director, is among those saying it is not fair that previous claims will not be reconsidered.

In a press release he said,” “These miners were forced to inhale McIntyre Powder from the 1940s to the 1970s. Now, they’re suffering and they’re dying. So this funding to expand assessment is something. But it’s not enough, and it’s regrettable that it’s only on a go-forward basis”.

Marty Warren**These miners are dying. They and their families need more than assessments. They deserve more. We call for compensation,
Marty Warren *These miners are dying. They and their families need more than assessments. They deserve more. We call for compensation, © United Steelworkers

The USW worked with OHCOW at the clinics, and Warren added, “These workers were human guinea pigs.  We have conducted intake clinics, where we interviewed former miners, survivors and caregivers. Everyone came with a story about how breathing in the dust in closed rooms affected breathing, overall health and life expectancy.”

There was only extremely limited testing done on rabbits and guinea pigs as to the effects of McIntyre powder before it was given permission to be used on thousands of miners.

Additional info- sources

Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Posted in Economy, Health, International, Science and Technology, Work & Labour

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

One comment on “Were you a miner? McIntyre powder update
  1. Peter Ashcroft says:

    Growing foresight ideas is being replaced by more relevant hindsight experience. Two sides of the coin of ideas.