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Community right to know

The Canadian Cancer Society believes that as community members, workers and consumers, we all have the right:

  • to know about the environmental and occupational risks that we are being exposed to 
  • to make informed decisions affecting our health 

That is why we support the principle of community right to know.

  • Our perspective

    The Canadian Cancer Society supports community right to know. We believe people have the right to know if they are being exposed to substances that are carcinogens.

  • What is community right to know?

    The principle of community right to know is that we are all, as individuals, entitled to information about chemical hazards present in our environment.

    We have the right to know about:

    • chemicals in our communities 
    • harmful ingredients in products 
    • the health impacts of our occupations and workplaces 
    Community right to know allows us to:
    • make informed decisions and take knowledgeable action about our work and living conditions 
    • empowers us to act as informed consumers and citizens 
    • encourages proactive improvement by businesses and organizations by, for example: 
    • encouraging manufacturers to substitute safer materials for human carcinogens in their products 
    • persuading industries to reduce the use, disposal and release of hazardous substances 
    • encouraging clear and transparent priority-setting processes and opportunity for action 

    In the past 20 years, community right to know has become a central and successful part of environmental policy in many countries. For example, in the US, emissions of 260 known carcinogens and reproductive toxins dropped by almost 50% after that country passed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

    Canada is falling behind. It is hard for people to find out about toxic chemicals in their neighbourhoods, workplaces and homes. Sources of information, such as the National Pollutants Release Inventory and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, exist but could be more accessible.

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