The Canadian Lung Association

The Canadian Lung Association

October 12, 2012 16:25 ET

Lung Association Praises Environment Ministers' Action on Air Quality

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 12, 2012) - The Canadian Lung Association is lauding the decision by Canada's environment ministers to move forward with a comprehensive national system for managing harmful air pollution. Federal, provincial, and territorial environment ministers have approved full implementation of the new Air Quality Management System, which was developed in close collaboration with national health, environmental, and industrial organizations.

"Our environment ministers have shown great leadership by endorsing a new system that will significantly improve the quality of the air Canadians breathe," said Mary-Pat Shaw, CLA's Acting President and CEO. "This is a bold step that will benefit the health of people across the country."

According to a 2008 study by the Canadian Medical Association air pollution currently causes the deaths of over 21,000 Canadians every year, as well as resulting in 30,000 emergency room treatments and 620,000 visits to doctors' offices 1. Acute exposure to pollutants during smog episodes increases the incidence and severity of asthma attacks, flare-ups of COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis), heart attacks and strokes 2, 3, 4, 5. Chronic exposure to air pollution, even at moderate levels, harms long-term health, especially for children, older adults and people suffering from chronic lung or heart disease 6, 7, 8, 9.

"The AQMS promises to deliver better day-to-day air quality and reduce the incidence of life-threatening smog conditions", said Ms. Shaw. "By tackling air pollution from all sources the new system will save thousands of lives every year."

The Air Quality Management System is the result of a ground-breaking and highly productive collaboration over five years between NGO and industrial stakeholders, the federal government and the provinces and territories. The Lung Association has been an active partner in this unique development process, advising on the overall design of the system and contributing to technical working groups.

The Air Quality Management System will have three key elements:

1 Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) will be set nationally and guide air quality management in all regions of the country. Initially these standards will cover two of the major air pollutants that contribute to smog formation: fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone. The CAAQS will later be extended to include other harmful pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide.

2 Base-Level Industrial Emissions Standards (BLIERS) will limit emissions of pollutants and ensure good environmental performance for all major industrial facilities.

3 A robust system of local air management in all provinces and territories, supported by regional and national co-ordination, will help ensure action to preserve good air quality in clean areas and ongoing improvements where air quality is at risk.

The system will take a comprehensive approach, dealing with all major air pollution sources, including transportation, industrial, residential, agricultural, and pollution from sources outside Canada's borders. Management actions will be customized to address specific pollution sources of concern in each area. The AQMS will also feature expanded air quality monitoring and regular public reporting on air quality and industrial emissions.

The Canadian Lung Association looks forward to the continued engagement of health, environmental and industrial stakeholders in the finalization and implementation of the new system.

About The Canadian Lung Association

Established in 1900, The Canadian 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 health issues.


1 Canadian Medical Association, No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution, 2008, Ottawa

2 Slaughter JC, Lumley T, Sheppard L, Koenig JQ, Shapiro GG. Effects of Ambient Air Pollution on Symptom Severity and Medication Use in Children with Asthma. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2003; 91:346-53.

3 D'Ippoliti D, Forastiere F, Ancona C, Agabity N, Fusco D, Michelozzi P, Perucci CA. Air Pollution and Myocardial Infarction in Rome: a case-crossover analysis. Epidemiology 2003;14:528-535.

4 Hong Y-C, Lee J-T, Kim H, Ha E-H, Schwartz J, Christiani DC, Effects of Air Pollutants on Acute Stroke Mortality. Environ. Health Perspect 2002;110: 187-191.

5 Desqueyroux H, Pujet JC, Prosper M, Le Moullec Y, Momas I. Effects of air pollution on adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Arch Environ Health 2002;57:554-560;

6 Health and Environment Canada, Canadian Smog Science Assessment, Highlights and Key Messages, PreProduction Final, 2011, Ottawa

7 Gauderman WJ, Gilliland GF, Vora H, Avol E, Stram D, McConnell R, Thomas D, Lurmann F, Margolis HG, Rappaport EB, Berhane K, Peters JM. Association between Air Pollution and Lung Function Growth in Southern California Children: results from a second cohort. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2002;166:76-84.

8 Miller KA, Siscovick DS, Sheppard L, Shepherd K, Sullivan JH, Anderson GL, Kaufman JD. Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Incidence of Cardiovascular Events in Women. N Engl J Med 2007; 56:447-458.

9 Pope CA, Burnett RT, Thun MJ, Calle EE, Krewski D, Ito K, Thurston GD. Lung Cancer, Cardiopulmonary Mortality, and Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution.JAMA 2002; 287:1132-1141.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Lung Association
    Christopher Wilson
    Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy
    (613) 298-5464