Canada’s air quality

Canada’s air quality has improved significantly over the last several decades as our air pollutant emissions continue to decline. Our air is consistently ranked among the cleanest in the world, according to the World Health Organization. This is largely due to federal, provincial and territorial governments working together to reduce air pollution from vehicles, power plants, and industries across the country.

The latest air pollutant emissions report shows an overall steady decline in air pollutant emissions since 1990. Despite this progress, almost one third of Canadians still live in areas where quality does not meet one of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Learn about Canada’s air quality, sources of air pollution, and air quality health indicators:

Air quality

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators

Infographic of the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program’s Air Indicators, describing impacts, promoting CESI interactive data map, and listing CESI’s partners.

Infographic of the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program’s Air Indicators, describing impacts, promoting CESI interactive data map, and listing CESI’s partners
Long description

The infographic presents information on the Canadian Environment Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program’s Air Indicators.

There are more than 50 Canadian environmental sustainability indicators tracking Canada's performance on key environmental issues in the follow 5 areas:

  • Water
  • Socio-economic
  • Air
  • Wildlife and habitat
  • Climate

Air indicators help Canadians better understand their environment. They provide information on emissions of key air pollutants and their effects on the quality of the air we breathe, as well as the human health impacts related to air pollution.

Key impacts of air pollution

Poor air quality affects the environment, our health and our economy. Managing it sustainably can help protect biodiversity, prevent premature deaths and save Canadians money.

Environment impacts

  • Acid rain
  • Decrease in crop productivity
  • Decrease forest health
  • Decrease in biodiversity

Health impacts

  • More than 15 000 premature deaths every year

Economy impacts

  • Economic costs of $120 billion every year

Explore local data in your area

Through the CESI interactive maps, explore up-to-date national, regional and local environmental indicators. Use our maps to find out about emissions and concentrations of key air pollutants in your area.

Find our maps on Google EarthTM, or by searching "CESI indicators" on the Government of Canada's Open Data Portal.

Air indicator partners

Working with science programs from Environment and Climate Change Canada (Air Pollutant Emissions Inventory, National Pollutant Release Inventory, Canada-wide Air Quality Database) and Health Canada, we gather timely, accurate and scientifically sound data on the environment, to keep Canadians informed.

CESI Air indicators

  • Air pollutant emissions indicators
  • Emissions of harmful substances to air indicators
  • Air quality indicators
  • Air health trends indicators
  • Population exposure to outdoor air pollutants indicator

Wildfire smoke and air quality

Wildfire season in Canada typically runs from early April to late October. As wildfire burns through forests and grasslands, it produces dense smoke that can be a major source of toxic air pollutants. This pollution contains fine particles (that are not visible to the human eye) that penetrate deep into our lungs and bloodstream, sometimes leading to serious health effects. For more information on how to protect yourself and your family:

Indoor air quality

While Canadians continue to spend more time at home to respect public health measures put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor air quality is more important than ever. Indoor air quality can also affect your health in many ways.

You can improve indoor air quality by making your home smoke-free; installing and maintaining carbon monoxide alarms; controlling humidity, and using the exhaust fan when cooking, both of which can help to remove pollutants from your home and prevent mold growth. Learn more about some indoor air pollutants and other ways to improve the air quality inside your home:

What we’re doing to help improve indoor air quality

Monitoring air quality in new homes

Health Canada is looking for owners of new-build homes to participate in an indoor air-quality study. This project will investigate the indoor air quality in newly constructed homes and study pollutant emissions from building products. Email us to find out how you can participate!

Building product emissions and indoor air quality report

Health Canada published the results of a pilot project studying building materials emissions and indoor air quality in two newly constructed homes. Supplementary material on the study is also available.

Guidance for indoor air quality

The Residential Indoor Air-Quality Guidelines summarize the health risks of specific indoor pollutants. They also provide information on:

Indoor ventilation, in combination with other recommended public health measures, can reduce the spread of COVID-19. Learn how to improve indoor air quality:

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