Horne Foundry attempted to obtain the address of children contaminated with arsenic | Arsen Rouyn-Noranda

Regional public health through CISSS from Abitibi-Témiscamingue, had to defend his refusal to share this information. The foundry took it to the Information Access Commission for a review.

Administrative judge Marc-Aurèle Racicot ruled in favor of CISSS acknowledged on February 14 that it was a matter of confidential personal informationaccording to §§ 131 and 132 of the Public Health Act.

The biomonitoring study was carried out in autumn 2018 in the Notre-Dame district of Rouyn-Noranda, closest to the foundry, with young children under 6 years of age. It aimed to measure the concentrations of lead, arsenic and cadmium in their fingernails and blood, as well as in the soil on their land and the dust in their homes.

In particular, the results indicate that these children are on average 3.7 times more exposed to arsenic than in the city of Amos. The results are up to 40 times greater.

The northern part of the Notre-Dame district, in Rouyn-Noranda.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Thomas Gerbet

Horne Foundry, owned by multinational Glencore, claimed to be entitled to the raw data under the Access to Information Act.

According to the document from the administrative judge’s decision, the company required all data collected as part of the investigation, including in particular the results related to the samples as well as the geolocation of the sampling sites and the homes where the samples were taken.

A toxicology laboratory report containing data on natural persons who provided blood samples, including names, surnames, reference numbers, health insurance numbers and test results provided by those natural persons. »

A quote from Example of a document in dispute, cited in the judge’s decision

Mireille Vincelette, a neighborhood resident whose two children participated in the study, said to herself puzzled and disappointed to learn what Horne Foundry was trying to get. We participated in this study on the condition that the data remain confidential.she remembers.

Mireille Vincelette is standing in the street.

Mireille Vincelette worries about the possible presence of arsenic in the air every time her children play outside.

Photo: Radio-Canada

The judge also pointed out that the participants had signed a consent form to protect the data.

This is highly sensitive personal data covering both the medical aspects (level of pollution in the body) and the family and demographic aspects (address, income, etc.) of the people who participated in this study. »

A quote from Extract of decision from administrative judge Marc-Aurèle Racicot

Attached to the judge’s decision, you can read a comment from Glencore, which gives a better understanding of the company’s intentions in its approach. She asks for transfer the database which makes it possible to observe, for a given blood result or a given nail analysis result, what was the contamination level of the participant’s soil, e.g..

All this to make it possible to analyze the results of blood and nail samples in detail according to the conditions and circumstances to which they are exposed. »

A quote from Glencore’s comment, attached to the decision of the Commission d’accès à l’information

The judge did not accept Horne Foundry’s argument, indicating that 132 de la Loi sur la santé publique était de maintenir le caractère prédominant de la Loi sur l’accès sur les renseignements obtenus par la directrice de santé publique et n’écarter la Loi sur l’accès que dans des cas balisés dans la Loi sur la santé et les services sociaux”,”text”:”la volonté du législateur en adoptant l’article 132 de la Loi sur la santé publique était de maintenir le caractère prédominant de la Loi sur l’accès sur les renseignements obtenus par la directrice de santé publique et n’écarter la Loi sur l’accès que dans des cas balisés dans la Loi sur la santé et les services sociaux”}}”>The legislator’s intention with the adoption of Section 132 of the Public Health Act was to maintain the prevailing character of the Access Act over the information that the Director of Public Health has obtained and not to override the Access Act only in the cases defined in the Act regarding health and social services.

Regarding certain very specific requests, such as lead data for the four results that exceeded the threshold the most, Horne Foundry had proposed to remove the nominal information anyway.

The company had also commented that the questionnaires that the participants had filled in, and that they wanted to be handed over in their entirety, could have been edited so as not to make it possible to identify the individuals.

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