Outdoor air pollution and health: Overview
On this page
- About outdoor air pollution
- Health impacts of air pollution overall in Canada
- Health impacts of wildfire smoke-related air pollution
- Contact us
About outdoor air pollution
Outdoor air pollution comes from a variety of sources, and even at low levels, has an impact on human health. It leads to disease, increased hospitalizations and even premature death.
Outdoor air pollution is a complex mixture of substances, including:
- sulphur oxides
- nitrogen oxides
- particulate matter (PM)
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Most people in Canada are exposed to air pollution every day while inside and outside their homes. Even though air pollution levels are low in Canada compared to those in other countries, addressing issues of air quality remains a priority for us.
You can take action to reduce air pollution in your community. Learn more about how you can help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.
Health impacts of air pollution overall in Canada
We estimate that every year in Canada, air pollution is linked to:
- 15,300 premature deaths
- 2.7 million asthma symptom days
- 35 million acute respiratory symptom days
We estimate the socio-economic costs of the health impacts of air pollution in Canada at $120B per year (based on 2016 currency).
Our analysis uses the best available health and air quality data for Canada.
We determine ambient levels of the pollutants using:
- ground measurements
- satellite measurements
- air quality computer models
We estimate the exposure to air pollution in Canada by combining air pollution and population distribution maps. We use mathematical equations for associations between air pollution and health effects to estimate the:
- number of premature deaths (and other health outcomes) in Canada
- socio-economic costs of the air pollution health impacts in Canada
This method is similar to those used by other health organizations, both in Canada and internationally.
You can download a technical report on the health impacts of air pollution in Canada.
Health impacts of wildfire smoke-related air pollution
We estimate that in recent years in Canada, air pollution from wildfire smoke contributed to:
- several hundred to several thousand premature deaths annually
- these numbers vary with the severity, intensity and location of the wildfires
- many asthma episodes, hospital admissions for heart and respiratory problems, and other health outcomes
We estimate the annual cost of the health impacts of wildfire smoke-related air pollution $5 billion to $21 billion.
For more information on air pollution, please contact us:
Telephone: 1-833-223-1014 (toll free)
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