Gendered occupational settings, social roles, and domestic responsibilities can significantly influence degree of exposure to two related chlorinated solvents with researched associations with cervical cancer: trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) [6-7].
TCE has a history of use in an occupational setting as a drycleaning solvent and as spot treatment in the textile industry . In domestic settings, cleaners and degreasers can contain TCE and further exposure through polluted indoor air can come from dissolved samples inhaled through vapors in a context such as showering [6, 8]. PCE is also a solvent used in drycleaning as a stain remover . Although use of PCE in drycleaning has decreased significantly in Canada, one of the primary sectors through which workplace exposures to PCE occur is the personal and household services sector .
The textiles, personal, and household services sectors are traditionally staffed by a significant number of women; in many countries, after agriculture, the textile sector is the largest employer of women [6, 7, 9]. In British Columbia, women in the personal service sector, which includes drycleaning, make up 56% of the workforce, a number considerably higher than women’s share of total employment (47%) . Studies also confirm high mortality rates for drycleaning employees from cancers, including cervical cancer .
Across Canada, women spend considerably more time than men on unpaid work such as cleaning and home maintenance, which put women at greater risk of chemical exposure . Often responsible for laundering, women may have elevated risk of second-hand exposure from carcinogens brought into the house on clothing .