-3.1 C
Monday, December 16, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

More hot, hazy and humid brings more risks


Restored Victorian home in Elmira the subject of TV competition

Along with the influx of visitors that comes with the holiday season, Elmira will see one new family...

Talking sports, and then some

If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of major sports leagues, the On the Rise podcast has got...

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Police out in force with RIDE programs through the holidays

With the holidays just weeks away, police have their festive RIDE program in full swing. Police services across...


overcast clouds
-3.1 ° C
-1.7 °
-5 °
62 %
90 %
-0 °
-1 °
-3 °
-11 °
-11 °

So, hot enough for you? That question might just be enough to set some people off of late, as the area baked in a heat wave. Beyond the bottled water, ice cream and surging electricity bills, the hot, hazy and humid weather comes at a price for our health.

The Canadian Medical Association estimates more than 20,000 Canadians will die prematurely from the effects of air pollution. While most of those deaths will be due to chronic exposure over a number of years, almost 3,000 will be the result of acute, short-term exposure.

Studies have shown the effects of poor air quality based on the concentrations of  smog-related pollutants, ozone and particulate matter. Specific findings include: by 2031, almost 90,000 Canadians will have died from the acute short-term effects of air pollution; the number of deaths, due to long-term exposure, will be more than 700,000; 80 per cent of those who die due to air pollution will be over age 65; Ontario and Quebec residents are the worst hit Canadians, with 70 per cent of the premature deaths occurring in Central Canada, even though these two provinces comprise only 62 per cent of Canada’s population.

There’s also a financial cost, estimated in 2008 at more than $8 billion. By 2031, the cost of air pollution will have accumulated to more than $250 billion.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development notes direct health-care costs due to pollution cost us billions of dollars, and come with negative consequences on our incomes due to sick days and lost time, for instance. It estimates income costs of upwards of three  per cent of the combined net income of households, businesses and governments.

Smog is a complex mixture of pollutants, mainly ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.

Ground-level ozone is different from the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. At ground-level, ozone gas is toxic to the respiratory system, and is the pollutant that has historically triggered nearly all of the smog alerts in Ontario. Fine particulate matter consists of tiny specks of liquid or solid particles that are suspended in the air, and contain soot and acids, which can lodge deep in our lungs.

The main sources of the manmade chemicals that make up smog are automobile emissions, coal-burning power plants and heavy industries. The toxins may be local, or from as far away as the U.S.: prevailing winds often carry pollutants from the Ohio valley up into the province.

Since polluted air masses cover large areas, and usually move slowly, the smog problem is not only confined to cities and industrial centres. That’s why the haze of the worst smog days can be seen out in the townships.

Ironically, the air quality is worst just as we want to be outside. We’re encouraged to be active – walking, hiking and cycling – but also warned about the increased stress on our lungs due to the pollutants.

A quick jump on a bike in the thick of traffic, even on the best of days, will let you know why that is. The heat and exhaust pouring out of cars, buses and trucks can be stifling. A bout of that makes you appreciate the wide open spaces and sparse traffic to be found on township roads. But with the kind of weather that enveloped us of late, we’re being warned against all kinds of strenuous activities, and advised to stay indoors as much as possible.

Not the ideal summer lifestyle, but a reminder of what we’ve done to the environment.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Embracing the trappings of the season, writ large

A local decorator has transformed her Wellesley property into a winter wonderland, carrying on a decade-long tradition for a good cause. The final product is truly a festive sight, featuring...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Buddy’s trek from the North Pole brings him to the stage in Cambridge

They’ll be no rest for Santa after his big day December 25, as he’ll be on stage into the new year due to...

Christmas is definitely a spectacle in this show

Requiring the efforts of several performing groups and a host of singers, dancers and musicians, the Yuletide Spectacular Christmas show offers up everything short...

Talking sports, and then some

If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of major sports leagues, the On the Rise podcast has got you covered.

Wellesley Applejacks win lone game of the weekend

The Wellesley Applejacks got back on track with a win over the Mounties in Paris on Saturday night, making up for a pair...

The trek south was long and gruelling, but they’ll do it again

It was a long haul complete with many hurdles, but having completed the 4,300-kilometre ultra-marathon last month, organizers are already planning for the next...
- Advertisement -