Health impacts from air pollution

Studies have shown that air pollution is the most important environmental contributor to poor health and premature death.Footnote 1  In Canada, thousands of hospital visits and, more than 15,300Footnote 2  premature deaths each year are linked to air pollution. Overall, the social and economic consequences of illness and death associated with air pollution has an economic value of $120 billion per year.Footnote 2 

Reducing harmful emissions helps improve Canada’s air quality and reduces health issues related to air pollution, such as asthma and cardiovascular diseases. People who are most at risk of the effects of air pollution include:

Reducing air pollution also helps the economy by enabling Canadian families and businesses to avoid health-related expenses and missed work.

Protecting your health

The Air Quality Health Index forecast (AQHI) is a scale designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health. This allows you to make decisions to protect your health by limiting short-term exposure to air pollution and adjusting your activity levels when air quality is poor. It also provides advice on how you can improve the quality of the air you breathe.

This index is useful to people who are sensitive to air pollution and provides them with advice on how to protect their health during all types of air quality in Canada.

Check the AQHI in your area or download the WeatherCan app.

Learn more

More information on how climate changing is impacting the air quality in Canada and the health of Canadians can be found in the Health of Canadians in a Changing Climate: Advancing our Knowledge for Action report.

Learn about the health effects of air contaminants, as well as causes of poor air quality and how you can protect yourself from it.

Health impacts of air pollution in Canada

Traffic-related air pollution

Air quality and health

Air Quality Health Index Publications

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