Title

“What do we value?” Does environmental health have to be a trade-off?

Submitter and Co-author information

Jane E. McArthur, University of WindsorFollow

Standing

Graduate (PhD)

Type of Proposal

Oral Research Presentation

Challenges Theme

Building Viable, Healthy and Safe Communities

Your Location

Windsor

Faculty

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Jane Ku

Abstract/Description of Original Work

This project explores women's understanding of breast cancer risks in relation to work and the environment, such as exposures to high levels of air pollution and shift work. Interviewed about their knowledge and strategies for control over breast cancer risk, women workers at the Ambassador Bridge described a sense of powerlessness. Women described barriers to action around breast cancer risk due to a lack of power. One woman asked: “What do we value? Do we value women's health and how much?” She conveyed that she felt trade and “pushing those trucks” felt more important to decision-makers than protecting women at risk. Bridge workers interviewed recognize they have less power than the Ambassador Bridge Company, the Federal Government, their union, and the wider public. The 25 narratives of the women interviewed provide a unique contribution to our understanding of breast cancer risk at work and in the environment. The women’s perspectives substantiate the need for improved policy and regulation. Analysis of the women’s narratives reveals that the pervasive idea of individual responsibility for health decisions, including for breast cancer risk, fails to account for power in health knowledge construction and strategies for risk mitigation. The findings of the research also suggest that cultural, political and systemic solutions are as important as scientific and medical ones.

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“What do we value?” Does environmental health have to be a trade-off?

This project explores women's understanding of breast cancer risks in relation to work and the environment, such as exposures to high levels of air pollution and shift work. Interviewed about their knowledge and strategies for control over breast cancer risk, women workers at the Ambassador Bridge described a sense of powerlessness. Women described barriers to action around breast cancer risk due to a lack of power. One woman asked: “What do we value? Do we value women's health and how much?” She conveyed that she felt trade and “pushing those trucks” felt more important to decision-makers than protecting women at risk. Bridge workers interviewed recognize they have less power than the Ambassador Bridge Company, the Federal Government, their union, and the wider public. The 25 narratives of the women interviewed provide a unique contribution to our understanding of breast cancer risk at work and in the environment. The women’s perspectives substantiate the need for improved policy and regulation. Analysis of the women’s narratives reveals that the pervasive idea of individual responsibility for health decisions, including for breast cancer risk, fails to account for power in health knowledge construction and strategies for risk mitigation. The findings of the research also suggest that cultural, political and systemic solutions are as important as scientific and medical ones.