Do right by injured miners – Editorial (Toronto Star – April 19, 2017)

Ontario miners who were forced to inhale a black aluminum-based substance, who have now developed neurological diseases, must be taken care of. Just contemplating it is sickening: Ontario miners forced to inhale a black aluminum-based substance called McIntyre Powder every time they went on shift.

The powder the miners were forced to breathe in from about 1943 to 1980 was actually developed to reduce the likelihood of them developing lung diseases caused by the high content of carcinogenic silica in gold and uranium mines.

But it turns out what they were inhaling may have made them sick in other ways. New research suggests aluminum is a toxin that can cause neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, if it gets into the bloodstream.

Despite that, miners with neurological diseases who were exposed to the black powder are not being compensated by the province’s workers’ compensation board. Based on a policy formed back in 1993, it says there is no consistent evidence linking aluminum exposure to neurological disease.

At last, considering all the recent research to the contrary, that policy is under review. That is a good first step. But while it is underway, the Ministry of Labour could take two other steps to help the miners.

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