NOV 27, 2019 8:50 AM PST

Canadians Face Increased Risk of Mortality Due to Air Pollution

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Air pollution is associated with an increased risk of death in Canada—even when air pollution is below national and international air quality guidelines—according to a recent study from the University of British Columbia (UBC). According to an article from UBC, this is the largest and most comprehensive study examining the relationship between air pollution and deaths in Canada. Nearly nine million adults comprised the study sample.

This study is one of three commissioned by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) to assess how long-term exposure to air pollution—even at decreased levels—impacts health. HEI is a non-profit organization that provides unbiased science on the health impacts of pollutants, including motor vehicles and other sources. The UBC study and initial HEI report were published online this week.

According to the report, ambient air pollution has declined significantly throughout North American and Europe. However, adverse health risks still occur. Exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5)—considered a causal risk factor for mortality—caused approximately 2.9 million deaths in 2017. Additionally, the report cites that exposure to fine particulate matter is linked to increased risks for chronic diseases such as lung cancer, heart attack, and stroke. 

The report states that researchers used satellite data, ground-level measurements, atmospheric modeling data, and land-use covariates to estimate annual exposure to fine particulate matter throughout the United States and Canada from 1981-2016. Michael Brauer, lead author and professor at UBC’s school of population and public health, told UBC reporters that their research discovered a 5% increase in the risk of death of Canadians in high-pollution areas (when compared to low-pollution regions). He stated, “this is concerning because millions of Canadians live in high-pollution areas and the aggregate impact is substantial.” He continued that although Canada meets the World Health Organization and national air quality guidelines, this study shows that “air pollution at any concentration is hurting Canadians and the world population.”

Brauer and his research team also examined how immigrants to Canada are impacted by air pollution. According to their report, immigrants comprise 20% of the Canadian population but are typically excluded from studies such as this. They discovered that new immigrants are just as sensitive, or more sensitive, to the health impacts of air pollution.

This comprehensive HEI study aims to provide information not only to scientists but policymakers and risk assessors who determine acceptable air pollution exposure guidelines for North America and Europe. The remaining research components of this project are expected to be completed in 2020.

Sources: UBC, HEI

About the Author
  • Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
You May Also Like
JUL 30, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Using Iron Waste to Clean Pesticides
JUL 30, 2021
Using Iron Waste to Clean Pesticides
Groundwater is something most people use every day. Whether for drinking, washing, or growing the food you eat, it is pa ...
AUG 25, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
AUG 25, 2021
Environmental Effects of Fast Fashion
August 25th is National Secondhand Wardrobe Day! Today we celebrate reusing clothing and keeping it from ending up ...
SEP 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
Using Food Waste To Make Rechargeable Batteries
SEP 15, 2021
Using Food Waste To Make Rechargeable Batteries
Back in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that nearly 133 billion pounds of food went to waste, ...
OCT 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
After Mass Extinction, All Modern Snakes Evolved From Only a Few Survivors
OCT 02, 2021
After Mass Extinction, All Modern Snakes Evolved From Only a Few Survivors
Reporting in Nature Communications, scientists have suggested that every living snake on earth evolved from just a handf ...
OCT 18, 2021
Plants & Animals
Reducing Jet Fuel Emissions Using Plant-Based Fuel
OCT 18, 2021
Reducing Jet Fuel Emissions Using Plant-Based Fuel
Airplanes have certainly revolutionized global travel, allowing people to traverse our wide world with relative ease. Bu ...
OCT 21, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Cosmic Radiation Events shed light on Norse Settlement in the Americas
OCT 21, 2021
Cosmic Radiation Events shed light on Norse Settlement in the Americas
A new open access study published in Nature yesterday showcases a relatively new method in archaeology. In an attempt to ...
Loading Comments...