Poor air quality causes a number of health concerns - and each individual reacts differently to air pollution. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiac conditions are more sensitive to the negative health effects of air pollution.
What are the potential health effects?
Potential health effects range from subtle symptoms such as sore throat, to more intense symptoms including chronic cough and wheeze, increased frequency or severity of asthma attacks and permanent reduction in lung capacity.
What can we do to limit exposure?
It is often difficult to limit exposure to outdoor air pollution, especially in urban areas. In many Canadian communities the Air Quality Health Index provides a real-time air quality reading and forecasts air quality for the following day.
In addition, air quality advisories will indicate when to limit exposure to outdoor air. On poor air quality days everyone should avoid strenuous outdoor activities, especially those at increased risk.
What can we do to improve air quality?
The greatest improvement each of us can make is to replace the car with more active transportation as much as possible. Bike to work, walk to school, skateboard to soccer practice, take public transit; If you leave the car behind and get active for the environment and for your health, you will be taking steps towards improving air quality.
Fundamental to a societal response are regulatory changes to improve air quality. Canada needs more stringent standards to limit emissions from industry and vehicles, as well as more effective enforcement practices.
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