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New index links air pollutants and health Regina SK

Each year, an estimated 6,000 Canadians die prematurely as a result of air pollution. Even more are hospitalized for respiratory or cardiovascular il ...

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New index links air pollutants and health

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(NC)-Each year, an estimated 6,000 Canadians die prematurely as a result of air pollution. Even more are hospitalized for respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses or suffer minor effects, such as coughing or eye irritation.

In order to minimize their exposure to noxious pollutants, and take steps to reduce emissions from their own activities, Canadians need to know when the quality of the air they breathe poses a risk to their health.

The new Air Quality Health Index, found at www.airhealth.ca, is the first index of its kind to take into account how the level of exposure to multiple pollutants can affect your health.

Hourly readings of current conditions and maximum forecasted values for today, tonight, and tomorrow are represented using a colour-coded numerical scale: 1 to 3 is low, 4 to 6 is moderate, 7 to 10 is high, and 10+ is very high.

The index also provides advice to the general population and those who are sensitive to air pollution-such as children, the elderly, and people with existing cardio-respiratory problems-about how to adjust their outdoor activities when pollutant levels are high.

The program will be available in more than a dozen communities across British Columbia as well as communities in the Greater Toronto area. It is also slated for expansion to other major cities in Canada in the near future.

"Canadians are entitled to clean air, to know the quality of the air they breathe and what they can do to reduce harmful impacts of air pollution," says Environment Minister John Baird. "Our Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gases and other harmful pollutants through a variety of initiatives detailed in our Turning the Corner plan. Tools like the Air Quality Health Index enable Canadians to protect their health as we move toward our goals."

Credit: www.newscanada.com