BC Lung Association State of the Air Report Unites Health and Environment Advocates
Vancouver, BC – July 17, 2012 – Safeguarding British Columbians from the health effects of air pollution needs to become a greater priority, suggests the BC Lung Association’s 8th BC State of the Air Report, released today.
The annual report unites experts on air quality and health to provide British Columbians with a snapshot of key pollutant levels and initiatives underway to address areas of concern. This year’s report also turns its attention on to emerging issues, including the health risks related to living in proximity to road traffic.
“Powerful links between air pollution and illness have been scientifically established and we have an obligation to keep the public informed,” says Dr. Menn Biagtan, Program Manager for the BC Lung Association. “It is becoming clearer, for example, that those who grow up and live in proximity to high-traffic areas over long periods of time suffer all kinds of health problems more frequently.”
Dr. Michael Brauer, a key contributor to the report and Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health agrees, “The body of evidence linking traffic-related pollution exposure to cardiovascular, respiratory and even neurological health problems just keeps piling higher.”
Approximately one-third of all Canadians live within 100 metres of a major road or 500 metres of a highway—the zones most greatly affected by traffic-related air pollution.
“The question is given how many people are exposed to road traffic on a daily basis, are we doing enough to safeguard public health?” continues Dr. Brauer citing proposals for action included in the report. “For instance, should we be separating active commuting (e.g. cycling) from busy roads; establishing policies on the location of new schools, hospitals and recreation centres; and implementing air filter systems in buildings close to busy roads that house susceptible populations?”
Beyond high level discussions on air quality and health, the report also profiles British Columbians affected by poor air quality.
This year two athletes with asthma, triathlete Jeff Symonds, and rugby player Andrea Burk, were featured. Both demonstrate how by effectively managing their asthma and coping with triggers including outdoor air pollutants, one can enjoy a full, active life.
In addition, individuals and organizations working to promote clean air within their communities are spotlighted. Included is the Prince George Air Quality Improvement Roundtable, whose efforts have contributed to significant decreases in the levels of harmful pollutants in the Prince George region.
Also recognized is the Donna Schmidt Memorial Lung Cancer Prevention Society, a charity committed to saving lives by increasing awareness of the risks of radon exposure. Through its advocacy work, a new building code is about to be adopted in Castlegar, BC, requiring new homes be radon-resistant.
“By providing stories of people and communities taking action to promote clean air and protect themselves from harmful pollutants, we hope to inspire others to do the same,” says Dr. Biagtan.
2012 State of the Air report contributors include representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada, Health Canada, the Ministry of Health, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, Metro Vancouver District, the Fraser Valley Regional District, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.
Katrina van Bylandt or Emily Wall, Communications, BC Lung Association
T 604.731.5864, or 1.800.665.LUNG (5864) E email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org