New report on connection between air pollution and health

Air pollution is linked to 1,300 premature deaths in Toronto every year.

A recently released report from Toronto Public Health shows air pollution is linked to 1,300 premature deaths and 3,550 hospitalizations each year in Toronto.

According to Path to Healthier Air: Toronto Air Pollution Burden of Illness Update, emissions from cars and trucks are the single largest source of pollution affecting our health, causing 280 premature deaths and 1,090 hospitalizations annually.

Based on this report, Dr. David McKeown, the Medical Officer of Health, issued five recommendations that were adopted this week by the Board of Health and will be considered by Toronto City Council at its meeting on May 6. The Board of Health is asking Toronto City Council to:

  1. Urgently request that the Premier of Ontario allocate sufficient funding for public transit.
  2. Ask Metrolinx to make sure active transportation infrastructure is incorporated into all major new Big Move projects.
  3. Direct City staff to avoid developing new residential buildings near highways where traffic pollution is greatest.
  4. Direct City staff to co-ordinate ways to improve the efficiency of urban goods delivery.
  5. Ask the Ontario Ministry of Environment and other key players to improve and increase air monitoring in Toronto.

Adopting these recommendations would have obvious health benefits to Toronto citizens and would reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly since transportation is the biggest (and growing) source of GHG emissions in the city, with trucks in particular adding to the local air pollution burden. For more information about the levels of pollution and emissions attributed to the urban freight sector with recommendations on how to lower them, see the new TAF-funded Pembina Institute report Greening the Goods.

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