Public Health would have hidden important health information

The Dright Horacio Arruda, then national director of public health, was reportedly calling for the release of data on the large number of cancer cases in Rouyn-Noranda.

This is an appendix that would have been removed from the report on the fall 2018 biomonitoring study that reported the figures for lung cancer cases being overrepresented in the Rouyn-Noranda region compared to the rest of Quebec.

This data, reports Radio-Canada, should first be presented to the public.

old warnings

The situation is well known and was the subject of studies a few years ago.

“Scientists had reported in various studies in the 80’s and 90’s that there was a health problem that might be related to emissions from the Horne smelter,” explains Mireille Vincelette of the Waste Stopping Committee and Rouyn-Noranda Toxic Emissions on the air LCN.

The latter feels cheated and has “the feeling that much remains hidden from us, that information is censored”.

money before health?

Several hypotheses are put forward to explain this political choice, in particular that of protecting the foundry despite its impact on public health. “It’s a major employer, so we can’t hurt its productivity,” suggests Vincelette.

“The Horne Foundry has the right to pollute the environment. That means it has the right to emit 33 times more arsenic into the air of Rouyn-Noranda than the rest of Quebec,” adds Émilise Lessard-Therrien, Quebec Solidaire MP for Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue.

A possible workaround?

It is not the emission of arsenic from the foundry that activists in the cause are pointing out, but its excessive emission.

“What we need to ensure is that this foundry meets Quebec standards because people’s health is being impacted far too much,” MP Lessard-Therrien said.

“The solution is not necessarily to close the smelter, but rather to moderate its emissions to meet the standard. We’re talking about arsenic, but there’s also lead, where we’re overexposed,” concluded Mireille Vincelette.

Remember that Dright Arruda left his post as national director of public health on January 10.

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