Lung Association urges strong action on air quality
News release - October 20, 2006
The Canadian Lung Association welcomes the stronger powers to control pollution introduced in the federal government’s Clean Air Act. However, the Association is also urging the government to move more quickly on improving air quality. Exposure to air pollution contributes significantly to suffering from respiratory illness, which currently afflicts one in every five Canadians.
The Lung Association supports the proposed use of regulatory enforcement and caps on air emissions as the most effective means to reduce air pollution. The Association is encouraged by the government’s decision to place the new provisions within the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), since use of the established statute will provide an efficient route for regulating and limiting air pollutants and greenhouse gases.
“Improving air quality is critical to protecting the health of Canadians,” said
The Lung Association is pleased to see indoor air quality regulated under the Act. “Canadians spend most of their time indoors and are potentially exposed to many pollutants - from cleaning products, off-gassing from new carpets, outdoor air pollutants that seep into buildings, and radon - a radioactive gas from the ground that is sometimes present in basements,” said Kenneth Maybee, Vice President of Air Issues for the Lung Association. “We hope that energy efficiency improvements referenced in the Act will result in better regulations for wood stoves, also a contributor to poor indoor and outdoor air quality.”
The Lung Association is encouraged by the government’s commitment to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including health and environmental organizations as well as industry and other governments, in developing regulations under the legislation. However, the Association urges the government to shorten the process to allow the early introduction of regulations on air quality.
The Lung Association has serious concerns that the proposed approach under the Clean Air Act will not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases quickly enough to lessen the health effects of climate change. Warmer temperatures caused by these emissions contribute to the difficulties of Canadians suffering from respiratory illness, for instance, by increasing the frequency and severity of smog conditions in urban centres.
“We are very concerned with the proposed targets for greenhouse gases and the use of intensity-based standards in the short and medium terms, since these will result in a continuing increase in total emissions,” said Dr. Barbara MacKinnon, Director of Environmental Research for the New Brunswick Lung Association. “‘We think both the targets and the time frame need to be revised to bring much earlier net reductions.”
The Lung Association is ready to work with the government, opposition parties and other stakeholders on strong measures to reduce air pollution, which kills thousands of Canadians every year, and on serious steps to reduce green house gases. We would urge all parties to work constructively for real action on air quality. The six million Canadians suffering from lung disease cannot wait any longer.