Innovating the study of workplace exposures
Kay’s interest in occupational health began during a post-college job in a factory, where she stuffed chicken feathers into pillows next to noisy machinery. She went on to innovate methods for identifying factors that led to work-related illnesses, known as the study of “determinants of exposure.” Kay’s research has identified unexpected settings where workers were exposed to bladder carcinogens, factors influencing lung-damaging exposures in the health care, sawmill and entertainment industries, and work injuries associated with Parkinson's disease. Studying exposure determinants is now much more common in the field of industrial hygiene. A bike rider for fun and transport, Kay later evolved methods to study bicycling injuries. She was lead investigator for the Cycling in Cities Program at the University of British Columbia, which studies factors that encourage or discourage bicycling, and how road designs affect injury risk. The results have been used internationally to make cities safer.
Affiliations: Former Director and Professor Emeritus, Occupational and Environmental Health, University of British Columbia