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How Cities Are Working To Improve Air Quality

Posted in Air Quality, on January 07, 2016

Are you wondering what your city is doing to enhance air quality? Here are some initiatives you probably don't know about.

Air pollutants can potentially affect environment and human health locally and across geographic and political boundaries. Consequently, governments across Canada pursue initiatives on air issues both collectively and individually. The Canadian government is further dedicated to protecting the health of Canadians from the effects of air pollution and is working on numerous fronts concurrently to fulfill that commitment. Here's a look at how various cities are working to enhance air quality.

Air Quality in Canada

Large industry produces approximately half of Canada's air pollution while transportation is one of the biggest sources of Canada's air pollution. This is especially evident in dense urban regions with numerous cars on the road and high congestion. Another common source of air pollution is gas and coal-fired power plants where electricity production from fossil fuels accounts for a huge percentage of Canadian nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and sulphur dioxide emissions. Smog is also a persistent issue in numerous places and takes a toll on the residents' health. According to estimates, air pollution in Canada is responsible for 21,000 premature deaths, 620,000 doctors' visits a year, and the financial cost of related death and illness tops $8 billion annually.

How Canada is Improving Air Quality

Canada is working towards enhancing air quality in the following ways:

  • It offers Canadians available, science-based information, tools and advice, for instance the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).

The Canadian government in collaboration with provinces and major environment and health partners designed the tool to help you establish the best time for enjoying outdoor activities. You can also use this tool to determine the degree of health risk you find acceptable based on your health status, air quality, and personal circumstances. You can also use the tool to plan and enjoy a healthy life. You can benefit from the regular updates as well as a forecast that will help you plan. Everyone can benefit from this tool, including persons who are susceptible to the consequences of air pollution, such as seniors and persons with chronic illnesses.

  • The government is collaborating with territories/provinces and stakeholders from environmental and health organizations to adopt the Air Quality Management System (AQMS), a national framework that manages air quality (AQ).

In 2012, environment ministers agreed to adopt a new AQMS to steer work on air emissions across the country. This system aims to offer an inclusive approach for enhancing Canada's air quality.

  • Canada has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing air quality in its pursuit of international agreements, for instance the Canada-United States AQ Agreement to restrict the exposure to emissions generated by sources beyond its borders.

How Toronto is Improving Air Quality

Toronto has adopted various initiatives to enhance air quality and protect the residents' health against pollution. For instance, in 2007, the Toronto Council adopted a Plan, establishing the city's air quality and reduction targets of greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, the city initiated various actions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and develop a more sustainable and livable urban environment. The city runs various projects to address air quality locally, including:

  • The City provides energy conservation plans through its Environment and Energy Division
  • Toronto Public Health manages various programs to inform the public and support the reduction of air pollution. The agency also collaborates on scientific reports to improve your understanding of air quality locally. You can access the reports online.
  • The city's Chem Trac plan requires local families to report on and track the release and use of polluting substances annually. The program also supports the growth of cost-efficient strategies on pollution prevention.

How Ottawa is Improving Air Quality

The city has adopted numerous actions to help decrease air pollution, for instance promoting the use of public transit, decreasing stop-and-go traffic by increasing the use of roundabouts. The city is improving air quality in other ways, including:

  • Transportation Planning

The Pedestrian, Cycling, and Transportation Plan aim at facilitating transit use and active transportation modes, thereby decreasing pollution.

  • Smog Alert Plan

The program outlines steps to follow in preparation for smog alerts and measures to follow in the event of a smog alert. Actions include offering public advice and decreasing or halting activities that lead to smog.

Air pollution is an issue that's affecting various parts of the world, including Canada. While pollution has far reaching consequences, governments such as Canada are working towards air improvement in various ways. If you need assistance with issues associated with air quality, kindly contact us so we can help (416) 414-5690

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