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July 8, 2004
Study shows Toronto's air pollution harms thousands of residents, Medical Officer of Health calls for action on air quality
  
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's Acting Medical Officer of Health, today released a
study estimating that five common air pollutants contribute to about 1,700
premature deaths and 6,000 hospital admissions in Toronto each year.

The estimates include chronic health effects associated with fine particles in
the air and acute health affects associated with ozone, nitrogen dioxide,
sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.

"These premature deaths and hospital admissions are preventable and likely
would not have occurred when they did without the exposure to air pollution,"
said Dr. Yaffe.

The report cites studies around the world demonstrating that air pollution
causes reduced lung function, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, lung
cancer, high blood pressure and reduced life expectancy.

The Toronto data show that compared with 27 cities over a ten-year period, the
city's nitrogen dioxide levels were the fourth highest, exceeded only by Los
Angeles, Hong Kong and New York. Increases in nitrogen dioxide levels in
Toronto coincided with increased vehicle use and a decline in the use of public
transit. The study identifies the city's transportation sector as the most
significant source of air pollution.

The study estimates that in Toronto, exposure to fine particles in the air
contributes to about 6,000 emergency room visits, 12,000 cases of childhood
bronchitis and 72,000 days of asthma symptoms each year.

"Bad air reduces the quality of life for the city's children and adults,
especially those who face a lifetime of chronic health problems made worse by
air pollution," said Dr. Yaffe.

Dr. Yaffe also released a report prepared for the Board of Health recommending
that the Ontario government be urged to implement a comprehensive action plan
to address air pollution in Toronto, including the following five priorities:
· Provide sufficient funding to ensure the maintenance and expansion of public
transit.
· Create an accountable agency to co-ordinate land-use and transportation
planning across the Greater Toronto Area.
· Aggressively promote energy conservation, the development of renewable energy
sources and co-generation with high efficiency natural gas.
· Enforce an industrial emissions reduction strategy through regulations that
ensure compliance with Canada Wide Standards for ozone and fine particles, by
2010.
· Establish health-based air quality standards to drive improvements in air
quality.

Media contact:
Mary Margaret Crapper, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7873



 

 

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