Councillor Filion participates in Air Quality sampling |
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Toronto City Councillor, John Filion is out walking today taking air samples to
raise awareness of the negative effects of air pollution on our health
announced Eva Ligeti, Executive Director of the Clean Air Partnership.
Councillor Filion agreed to participate in the air sampling to examine the
effects of vehicular traffic on the air quality in his community. He is being
assisted by environmental engineering students from the University of Toronto.
"The general public must be informed of the economic and health-related effects
so that we make decisions and take action to protect the air we breathe," said
Councillor Filion. "It is important that we continue to work together to
respond to the challenges that lie ahead."
Smog contains two key ingredients, ground level ozone and particulate matter.
The samples measure fine and ultrafine particulate matter that are produced
from tailpipe emissions and can occur in high concentrations at any time of the
year. Particulate matter is consistently linked as having a significant
negative effect on human health.
"The particles are so fine they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs causing
health impacts, especially for the elderly, children and for those with
respiratory and cardiac problems," said Dr. Monica Campbell, spokesperson for
Toronto Public Health.
The outcomes of the sampling will be unveiled at a media conference at Queen’s
Park on June 7, where science, health, and environment experts will join the
media to describe emission reduction strategies needed to improve the quality
of air we breathe.
The air sampling is part of the Clean Air Partnership’s Smog Summit, taking
place on June 8. All levels of government will gather to address air pollution
issues, make commitments and sign the Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean
Air as a culmination of a year of action and leadership to reduce air pollution
in the GTA airshed.
The Clean Air Partnership, a charitable organization that works in partnership
to promote and coordinate improvements to local air quality, presents this
event. The Smog Summit and GTA Clean Air Council meetings are organized by the
Clean Air Partnership. Sponsors of the Smog Summit include: Toronto Atmospheric
Fund, Enbridge Gas Distribution, Toronto Hydro Corporation, Government of
Canada, Government of Ontario, City of Toronto, and the GTA Clean Air Council.
For more information and a full schedule of events visit
Politicians across the GTA participate in Air Quality sampling
Urban air pollution and its social and economic effects in the GTA continue to
be of significant concern. The Ontario Medical Association estimates premature
deaths, emergency room visits, direct health care hospital costs, and lost
productivity costs that can be attributed to poor air quality. These numbers
and costs continue to rise annually. In 2004 in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA),
estimates include 900 premature deaths, 18,560 emergency room visits, $283.2
million in direct heath care hospital costs and $255.2 million in lost
The air quality sampling conducted on May 30 with participating GTA politicians
will alert the GTA residents to the staggering costs to society and is meant to
provoke action by all levels of government to work collectively to reduce these
Environmental Engineering professor Dr. Greg Evans is supervising the
University of Toronto students who assisted in the sampling. The sampling will
show that air pollution is both a local and a regional issue and must be
tackled by all levels of government in the GTA.
The outcomes of the air sampling will be unveiled at a media conference at
Queen’s Park on June 7, where science, health, and environmental experts will
join the media to describe emission reduction strategies needed to improve the
quality of air we breathe.
The air quality sampling is part of the annual Smog Summit. At the Smog Summit
on June 8 representatives from all levels of government commit to clean air
initiatives by signing the Inter-governmental Declaration on Clean Air.
Air Quality Sampling
Politicians from municipalities across the GTA used hand-held instruments,
provided by Health Canada, to measure particulate matter produced from direct
vehicle tailpipe emissions. Particulate matter is so small that it is measured
in microns. This small dot (.) is equal to about 600 microns. Two sizes of
particulate matter (PM) were measured; fine particulate matter, less than 2.5
microns in size (PM2.5) and sub-micron‘ultrafine’ particulate matter, less than
0.1 micron in size (PM0.1). Individual particles cannot be seen with the naked
eye, but together they can appear as grey haze or soot causing reduced
Each participating municipality sample area includes a busy road, a residential
street, and along side an idling vehicle to compare the different
concentrations of particulate matter showing the local and regional effects.
PM2.5 is a regional concern due to its ability to stay in the air for days or
weeks and travel for hundreds of miles. PM0.1 is a more localized concern
because of its size; however, research is still in its early stages.
Air Quality and Health
There is a strong association between air pollution and increases in premature
mortality and hospitalizations. Effects are wide ranging and include acute and
chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks, cardiac symptoms and reduced lung function.
Young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing respiratory and heart
conditions are most at risk of adverse effects.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures six common air pollutants; sulphur
dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur compounds, carbon monoxide, and fine
particulate matter. Particulate matter (PM2.5) is among the most harmful of the
common air pollutants.
Ontario uses the AQI as an indicator of our air quality. The lower the value of
the AQI, the better the air quality. Ontario’s AQI uses 45ug/m3 (3 hours) for
PM2.5 to trigger a "poor" rating for air quality. Unfortunately this is not
adequate warning for the population-at-risk where adverse health conditions are
triggered at levels as low as 15 ug/m3, considered "very good" on an AQI
Poor air quality at ground level can be closely linked with traffic volume in
the immediate transportation corridors. Cars, trucks and buses release
pollutants at ground level where they are readily inhaled by people, causing
adverse health effects, even when regional levels indicate a "very good" air
The GTA residents must be informed on air pollution issues so that they can
make decisions and take action to reduce air pollution and minimize the health
Air Quality and Transportation
The transportation sector is one of the largest sources of air pollution. The
recent gains made in stricter vehicle emissions requirements have been
negatively offset by the increased volume and frequency of vehicle use. Urban
sprawl is blamed for the increase in kilometers travelled, higher rates of
vehicle ownership, increased congestion and air pollution. In June 2000, the
Greater Toronto Services Board estimated that congestion in the GTA costs the
economy $2 billion annually due to delays in shipping goods, without taking
into account time lost by individuals.
The 5.3 million population of the GTA is expected to grow by an additional
three million people over the next 25 years. This population growth pattern
emphasizes the need to expand and sustain the public transit infrastructure and
investigate alternative modes of transportation.
Improvements in transportation should include research and education, improved
vehicle and fuel technologies, high occupancy vehicles lanes, subsidized public
transit infrastructure, and alternative transportation modes including cycling
Eva Ligeti, Clean Air Partnership, 416-392-1220, 416-567-0924 (cell)
For more information visit http://www.cleanairpartnership.org