Peoples' Health Commission

Steel Workers Hall
369 Prince
Sydney, NS
B1P 5L2
Phone: 902-539-3857    Email:

PHC Conducts Community Health Study

Frustrated with bureaucratic delays and endless testing, Citizens of Sydney have launched their own health commission.

The Peoples' Health Commission is an effort to answer fundamental questions that no level of government has been willing to ask - questions such as, 'what is the state of health of those people living closest to the Sydney Tar Ponds and the Coke Ovens site in the Muggah Creek Watershed?'" explains Elizabeth May, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada. "In addition to conducting a community health survey, the goal of the Peoples' Health Commission is to bring residents into a more direct involvement in deciding their future.

The health study is the first-ever attempt to document the actual state of health of residents living in close proximity to the Tar Ponds and the Coke Ovens Site. Residents in Whitney Pier, the North End and Ashby have been interviewed about their health, as well as life style issues and exposure to toxic substances.

Backed by a scientific advisory panel of distinguished scientists, medical doctors and public health experts, the PHC has completed the "data collection" phase of the study and has now moved on to the analysis of this pertinent information.

The Peoples' Health Commission is Sponsored by:
The International Institute of Concern for Public Health
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
The Sierra Club of Canada

Dust Study Initiated

The PHC initiated the first ever study of household dust in the three affected areas: Whitney Pier, Ashby and Sydney's North End. The goal of the research project was to answer 2 main questions:

  1. Is there a difference in the levels of contaminants in soil and dust among the three neighborhoods surrounding the steel plant and coke ovens site?
  2. Are the contaminants in the environment entering the homes?
The study focussed on lead and arsenic, but considered PAHs as well. House dust was considered to be the primary exposure route for children and perhaps for people cleaning the home. The results, posted in April, 2003, showed that all three neighborhoods surrounding the tar ponds, steel and coke ovens site have been significantly affected by the industrial activity over the century. Elevated levels of lead, arsenic and PAHs were discovered in all three communities.

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