The Deadly Impact of Airborne Particles

Researchers at Simon Fraser University have produced a new video to warn about how exposure to air pollution, especially toxic particles, can increase the risk of death from heart disease. These findings were presented in the latest video in a series from the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas, a project based at Simon Fraser University that aggregates environmental data and its impact on public health, to present it in a meaningful way online. 

Key facts

  • Air pollution is a mixture of gases and toxic particles. Each of the particles is invisible, but collectively they create a dense, visible smog that is deadly. Most people understand that air pollution causes damage to their lungs, but it is also a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Air pollution is causing premature deaths worldwide. During the London Fog of 1952, half as many people died from air pollution than from aerial bombings of London during the World War II. Last month, the Indian government declared a state of emergency relating to air pollution in New Delhi.
  • Using three cities, Vancouver, London and Beijing, the film illustrates how the per cent of heart disease deaths from air pollution increase as the levels of pollution increase. The video illustrates how three million deaths could be prevented if levels of pollution were lowered to those found in Vancouver.
  • The Canadian Environmental Health Atlas was initiated in 2009 by a multidisciplinary team at SFU and other Canadian universities to advance knowledge on environmental health. The goal of the project is to make scientific research accessible to Canadians and researchers through interactive tools, videos, maps, and graphics.
  • CIRA's Community Investment Program provided funding to support this project and aid in the development of online resources to make the data more accessible to Canadians. Through a series of online animated videos, important environmental and health data can be made widely available to Canadians, policy-makers and researchers to help inform decision-making and ultimately improve public health outcomes. 

Page Last Updated: 07/12/2016