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April 17, 2014
Path to healthier air – new study confirms traffic reduction needed
A new study by Toronto Public Health, Path to Healthier Air: Toronto Air Pollution Burden of Illness Update, shows that air pollution results in approximately 1,300 premature deaths and 3,550 hospitalizations annually in Toronto. Air pollution is also known to cause cardiovascular and respiratory health problems, affect birth outcomes, and is linked to cancer, chronic diseases and other illnesses.

"Healthy public policy can make a difference in saving lives," said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. "This report shows that we are better off than we were, but air pollution still has a serious impact on health. More work is needed to reduce emissions and reduce health risks."

According to the study, there has been a decrease of 23 per cent in premature deaths and 41 per cent in hospitalizations over the past decade, as government policies and programs, such as the phase-out of coal-fired power generation and the City of Toronto's low sulfur fuel purchasing have helped to reduce emissions.

The largest local source of air pollution is motor vehicle traffic, accounting for approximately 280 premature deaths and 1,090 hospitalizations in Toronto.

"With over half of the health impact from Toronto's local air pollution attributed to motor vehicle traffic, expanding transportation options so that more people walk, cycle and take transit, is a prescription for better air and better health," added Dr. McKeown.

Considering the needs of pedestrians and cyclists when planning and building new public transit projects will help to greatly reduce harmful emissions and the negative impact on health. In addition, developing an urban freight strategy to reduce the amount of time spent on Toronto's roadways by polluting heavy-duty trucks is a strategy that would save lives.

More information about the report that will be before Toronto's Board of Health at its April 28, 2014 meeting is available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.

Media Contact
Lenore Bromley
Toronto Public Health



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