Toronto Air Quality Study Shows Too Many Lives at Risk

May 29, 2000
Toronto Public Health will present a major research study today on\r\nair quality to the Board of Health and will ask the board to support\r\nurgent action to reduce air pollution.

Toronto Public Health will present a major research study today on air quality to the Board of Health and will ask the board to support urgent action to reduce air pollution.

Dr. Sheela Basrur, medical officer of health, and Dr. David Pengelly, an internationally recognized air quality expert with the University of Toronto and McMaster, will present the recently released study, "Air Pollution Burden of Illness on Toronto."

This study determined that each year approximately 1,000 Toronto residents die prematurely, and another 5,500 are admitted to the hospital because of air pollution.

"One thousand premature deaths from air pollution is equivalent to four international jets crashing each year and killing everyone on board. If air pollution deaths were this visible to everyone, I am sure we would see much faster progress on improving air quality," said Basrur.

Contrary to popular belief, air pollution is a health problem year round, not just in the summer.

The pollutants examined in this study, and which are responsible for most of the harm to health, are present at unhealthy levels every month of the year.

These pollutants are caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel from vehicles, coal from power plants, and oil and gas to heat buildings.

"Regarding air quality standards, our study indicates that existing regulations are not adequate to protect human health," said Pengelly. "In general, Toronto''s pollution levels are well below those permitted by both the federal and provincial government. Despite this, we have an enormous burden of illness in this city due to bad air."

The Board of Health will be asked to support three key areas for action: federal/provincial investment in public transit; improvement of air quality standards; and accelerated action on controlling pollution from coal fired power plants.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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