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Smog To Kill 21,000 Canadians This Year

Smog to kill 21,000 Canadians this year, medical group warns

Reuters in Toronto – Updated on Aug 15, 2008

Smog-related deaths may exceed 700,000 in Canada over the next two decades, the Canadian Medical Association said.

Long- and short-term exposure to air pollution would kill at least 21,000 Canadians this year, the CMA said in a landmark study into health costs of poor air quality.

That is much higher than a government estimate of 5,900 premature deaths linked to pollution.

“This report shows that things don’t seem to be getting better,” said Brian Day, the CMA’s president. “And in fact, in terms of the actual numbers, they seem to be getting worse.”

The CMA estimates the costs of health care and lost productivity from air pollution will top C$8 billion (HK$58.6 billion) this year and climb to C$250 billion by 2031.

Pollution-related illnesses such as asthma and cardiovascular disease would prompt more than 30,000 emergency-room visits and 620,000 doctor’s visits this year, the report said.

In addition, more than 80 per cent of those who die because of poor air quality will be over the age of 65.

“Canada has one of the highest percentages of baby boomers in the world, and in the next two or three years the baby boomers will hit 65,” Dr Day said, adding that he hoped the government would see it as a problem that could be reversed.

Canada is not alone in experiencing the health effects of air pollution.

At current pollution levels, an estimated 64,000 people die from causes attributed to particle air pollution each year in the United States, according to the Natural Resources Defence Council, a US environmental group.

Almost half of Europe’s population may have been exposed to airborne concentrations of particle matter above the European Union limit, the European Environment Agency says. The substances have reduced the average life expectancy of Europeans by more than eight months, the agency says.

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