Toronto Public Health has released a new study called ‘Path to Healthier Air: Toronto Air Pollution Burden of Illness Update. The study blames air pollution for causing approximately 1,300 premature deaths and 3, 550 hospitalizations ever year in Toronto.
"Healthy public policy can make a difference in saving lives," said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. "This report shows that we are better off than we were, but air pollution still has a serious impact on health. More work is needed to reduce emissions and reduce health risks."
The study also shows that over the past decade there has been a decrease of 23% in premature deaths and 41% in hospitalizations and attributes those decreases to government policies like the Province of Ontario’s decision to phase-out coal fired power generation.
According to the study, the largest local source of air pollution is vehicle traffic.
"With over half of the health impact from Toronto's local air pollution attributed to motor vehicle traffic, expanding transportation options so that more people walk, cycle and take transit, is a prescription for better air and better health," added Dr. McKeown.
Toronto Public Health is encouraging the city to consider pedestrians and cyclists when building new public transit projects and develop a strategy to reduce the time heavy-duty trucks spend on the roadways.
The report will be presented to the Toronto Board of Health at its meeting on April 28th.