Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

October 19, 2006 15:01 ET

CMA Commends Government for Recognizing Impact the Environment Has on Health

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 19, 2006) - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) said today that the proposed new federal Clean Air Act was an important acknowledgement of the environment as a key determinant of health.

"Physicians across the country know how important it is to improve the quality of the air our patients breathe," said CMA President, Dr. Colin McMillan. "We are hopeful that the promises made today in the Clean Air Act will translate into real action on air quality that will improve the health of Canadians."

Every day, the average adult breathes in about 15,000 to 20,000 litres of air containing chemical and biological gases, droplets and particles, some of which are harmful to health. The economic and social costs of air pollution are extensive and can be measured in terms of lost productivity, premature mortality, increased hospital admissions and a rise in emergency room visits. The CMA plans to study the health and economic impacts of air pollution across Canada in the coming months based on a software model developed by the Ontario Medical Association.

"To be truly health relevant, air pollution policy must result in a measurable decrease in total emissions," said McMillan. "Illness from air pollution is dose responsive. If the air doesn't get any cleaner, you don't reduce the dose and you're not likely to improve the health of your citizens."

"The government certainly has its work cut out for it and time will tell whether the measures outlined today will add up to an overall improvement in air quality," concluded Dr. McMillan. "However, by recognizing and targeting the role clean air has in ensuring good health, the government appears to be on the right track. For that reason, the Clean Air Act could prove to be a significant first step in improving the health of Canadians."

Reminder: Entries for the 2007 Media Awards for Excellence in Health Reporting of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) must be received by November 20, 2006 at 17:00 EST. For more information about the awards honouring outstanding Canadian journalism that enhances understanding of health, the health system and the role of health professionals, visit

Contact Information

  • Canadian Medical Association
    Carole Lavigne
    Media Relations
    613-731-8610 or 1-800-663-7336 ext. 1266