Results show that approximately 8,600 Canadians are exposed to acetaldehyde in their workplaces; 68% of these workers are male. The largest industrial groups exposed are plastic products manufacturing, followed by food manufacturing. A significant number of workers are also exposed in the farming industry, where acetaldehyde is a major degradation production of a common molluscicide called metaldehyde.
When exposure is examined by occupation, the largest exposed group is labourers in food, beverage, and tobacco processing (1,200 workers exposed) and plastic machine operators (1,100 workers exposed), followed by farmers and farm managers (950 workers exposed), and labourers in rubber and plastic products manufacturing (800 workers exposed). Other important occupational groups exposed to acetaldehyde include plastic products assemblers, finishers and inspectors, general farm workers, and process control and machine operators in food and beverage processing.
Data Sources & Methods
Data used in developing the occupational estimates for acetaldehyde were collected from several sources:
- The Canadian Workplace Exposure Database (CWED) contains approximately 1,500 measurements for acetaldehyde exposure. These measurements were collected during the years 1981 to 2004 in Ontario and British Columbia workplaces.
- Canadian and US scientific peer reviewed publications that addressed acetaldehyde exposure in Canada and the United States.
- Grey literature including technical reports from governments and international bodies.
Prevalence Estimate Method
CAREX defines exposure to acetaldehyde as inhalation exposure at work to levels above those encountered in the general environment.
To determine the number of workers potentially exposed to acetaldehyde at work, CAREX occupational exposure experts used methods previously established in other peer-reviewed CAREX projects in Europe. A series of steps were taken to assign exposure proportions to occupations and industries at risk of exposure to acetaldehyde.
- Occupations and industries at risk of possible exposure to acetaldehyde were identified using any combination of data sources described above.
- The total number of workers in each identified occupation and industry intersection was obtained from Statistics Canada 2006 census data.
- A percentage of workers exposed was assigned to that occupation and industry intersection. Percentages were determined by consultation with existing evidence in the data sources, previously established methods from the Europe CAREX estimates and the expert judgement of CAREX occupational hygienists.
- The number of workers in the identified group is multiplied by the assigned percentage to calculate the prevalence estimate of workers exposed to acetaldehyde.