A searchable tool for finding policies on environmental agents, cancer and chronic diseases

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Thursday, July 19, 2018
Anne-Marie Nicol

Have you ever needed to do a quick policy scan for an environmental health issue or wanted up-to-date information to write a policy brief? If so, the Prevention Policies Directory, created by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, may be an invaluable resource for your work. Environmental exposures covered in the directory include indoor and outdoor air pollutants (i.e. asbestos, diesel, radon and formaldehyde) and drinking water contaminants like lead and disinfection by-products. Policies that impact recycling, waste disposal, workplace safety and the built environment are also included.

The Directory is a free, bilingual, searchable database of policies that impact Canadians’ exposure to hazards that can lead to cancer and chronic diseases. Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal policies are included in the database and it is guaranteed to be up to date because it uses a webcrawler to regularly track over 50 Canadian policy sites.

The inclusion criteria for the database include:

  • Must be related to cancer and/or chronic diseases
  • Must be related to prevention
  • Must be policies from Canada
  • Must be a legal document or policy

Further information about the inclusion criteria can be found at the CPAC website.

Using the Database

To use the database, simply type keywords into the search box (waste asbestos, in this case):

Prevention and Policies database

This gives a list of all available policies meeting the search criteria:

Prevention and policies database


The list of Search results can be filtered along the various criteria specified in the leftmost box.  These include Risk Factor, Policy Intervention, Policy type, Jurisdiction, Location and Municipality/Region.

Policy Details

Hitting the “+” symbol for an individual policy gives further details about the policy.

Preventions and policies database

The “Related evidence” link provides a list of the chemicals covered by the policy (clickable to the CAREX definition of the chemicals).  The “View Policy” link offers an opportunity to view the original source of the policy.

Useful teaching tool

The Directory has also been organized as a teaching tool for instructors and others in public health. Useful guides for developing policy models, analyzing policies and writing briefing notes are also included here