The Lung Association

The Lung Association

June 03, 2009 06:55 ET

Clean Air Must Be Top Priority Despite Tough Economy: Lung Association Survey

Only 37% of Canadians say federal and provincial governments are doing enough to clean up dirty air

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 3, 2009) - Despite tough economic times, the majority of Canadians want to see federal and provincial governments make clean air a top priority, according to a new poll by The Canadian Lung Association to mark Clean Air Day.

Fifty-four per cent of Canadians said clean air should be a top or high priority for federal and provincial governments. The numbers were most pronounced in Quebec where 70% of respondents felt clean air should be a priority in spite of the economic times, followed by 54% in Alberta and 52% in Atlantic Canada.

"Canadians are saying - quite clearly - that clean air policies must be given top billing by governments across this country," said Kenneth Maybee, Chair of Environmental Issues for The Lung Association. "Our health, especially our lung health, depends on clean air".

"We hope governments nationwide will use Clean Air Day 2009 as an opportunity to recommit themselves to ensuring Canadians enjoy clean air, and fewer smog days, in the future", added Tony Hudson, Vice Chair of Environmental Issues for The Lung Association.

Only 37% of Canadians felt that federal and provincial governments were doing enough to improve the air we breathe, while 54% said not enough was being done, according to survey results.

Air pollution affects everyone's health. Certain people are at higher risk, particularly children, seniors and those with lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

People who do vigorous activities outdoors, such as athletes, farmers and construction workers, are also at a higher risk. Even healthy individuals may have more difficulty breathing on days when the air is highly polluted.

"The link between air pollution and lung disease is often under-appreciated," said Dr. Menn Biagtan of the B.C. Lung Association. "Short-term exposure to ozone - the main component of smog - can exacerbate lung conditions, causing illness, and hospitalization. Chronic exposure to ozone can cause pre-mature deaths in people with pre-existing lung and heart conditions."

"It's not just urbanites who are affected by air pollution - people living in rural areas and in cottage country can be affected, too. "Air pollution knows no borders. People living in rural areas breathe in pollutants that get blown by the wind from sources hundreds of kilometres away," says Mr. Maybee.

The Lung Association has a list of strategies that all Canadians can use to protect their lung health on days when air quality is poor. As well, the Association urges Canadians to follow the advice offered by the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) on days when air quality is poor. The AQHI monitors air quality in regions across the country and provides Canadians with recommendations reducing outdoor activities when the air is poor.

Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada's oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.

About the Survey

From May 28 to May 29, 2009, Angus Reid Strategies conducted an online survey among a randomly selected, representative sample of 1,017 adult Canadians aged 18 and over. The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to Statistics Canada's most current education, age and region Census data to ensure a representative sample of the entire adult population of Canada.

For more information on what you can do to reduce air pollution

For more information on outdoor air quality

For more information on the Air Quality Index

For more information on the new Air Quality Health Index.

Contact Information

  • The Lung Association
    Cameron Bishop
    Director of Government Affairs and Media Relations
    613-569-6411, ext, 223