A recently published article “Dust versus Dust: Aluminum Therapy and Silicosis in the Canadian and Global Mining” (Canadian Historical Review, 102(1) Mar. 2021: 1-26) provides a thorough, if disturbing, examination of the forces in play behind the development and widespread adoption of McIntyre Powder. Facing a silicosis crisis as the disease ravaged the lungs of underground miners exposed to the silica dust, the finely ground aluminum oxide was first tested as a possible preventative treatment by industrial doctors at the McIntyre Mine, Porcupine, northern Ontario, in the late 1930s. Over the following three decades the McIntyre Research Foundation (MRF) distributed its treatment to miners on nearly every continent. In exploring the intersection of corporate and government interests, the scientific controversies, the role of labour, workers’ compensation board and the media, the authors reveal how the “Canadian mining industry, working under the auspices of the MRF, reinforced its power over workers, denying them the right to informed consent as they exposed them to a form of industrial pollution that carried dire consequences for their future…”
McIntyre Powder Project founder Janice Martell offers a resounding endorsement of the detailed history of the program:
The “Dust versus Dust” article offers a comprehensive review of the “quick fix” use of McIntyre Powder by the mining industry to combat silicosis, at an unknown cost to the health and lives of the miners and workers who were given no choice but to “breathe deep, boys!
“When I first began researching McIntyre Powder in 2011, an online search yielded two entries: the Sandra Rifat study […], and a notation in the Mining Hall of Fame honouring McIntyre Porcupine Mine Manager R.J. Ennis for instituting the use of McIntyre Powder inhalation to address the problem of silicosis. When I researched archival records from the McIntyre Research Foundation, the Ontario Mining Association, and relevant government entities, the control that the northern Ontario mining industry had over the McIntyre Powder story was pervasive.”