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Chemical carcinogen detected in the air of Hamilton

An air monitoring experiment found that cancer-causing chemicals are contaminating the entire city of Hamilton, Ontario.

In the study, an air monitoring experiment found that the concentration of benzo[a]pyrene, a carcinogenic chemical, in Hamilton exceeded Ontario's air quality guidelines.


"It's equivalent to inhaling one cigarette a day," said Matthew Adams, an associate professor at the University of Toronto and an air quality expert who is coordinating the study.


The research, led by the City of Hamilton and funded by Health Canada, has been underway for nearly two years. During that time, over 60 air monitors were placed on street poles in each district to monitor air quality.


It is worth noting that benzo[a]pyrene, a chemical formed when certain substances are not completely burned, was found throughout the city, not just in areas near steel mills that commonly emit cancer-related chemicals.


Occupational exposures to the carcinogen have been associated with various cancers, including lung and bladder cancer, according to the National Library of Medicine.


"It's actually more pervasive throughout the city than we expected," said Adams.

Hamilton's steel mills, including ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Stelco, are among the top emitters of benzo[a]pyrene in the country.


"We know that the steel industry emits this pollutant, and that is not up for debate," said Adams.


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