The quality of the air we breathe affects the quality of the lives we lead. Below are a few areas of concern ONEIG has been involved in.
AIR QUALITY IN ICE ARENAS RESOLUTION
Resolution Leads: Chrystyna Kells (President) and Andrew Shepherd (Communications ENO) As passed at the 2012 AGM, this resolution reads: Therefore be it resolved RNAO collaborate with the appropriate government jurisdictions and other key stakeholders to develop and implement a strategy to decrease risks of exposure to CO, NO2 and other combustion products from emissions of ice re-surfaces in ice arenas. The full resolution and background information can be read here. A supporting strategy is currently being developed.
ANTI- IDLING RESOLUTION lead: Morgan Lincon As passed at the 2012 AGM, this resolution reads: Therefore be it resolved that RNAO collaborate with the Ontario Government and other key stakeholders to develop and implement a strategy to reduce vehicle idling, including drive-through emissions. What is idling? Keeping your car engine on while you’re parked is called “idling.” Many of us idle when we pick up our children from school or run short errands.
Why is it a problem? The problem is that idling causes air pollution. Car exhaust contains many chemicals (like carbon monoxide) that may cause cancer and make people with asthma feel worse. Children are more sensitive to the chemicals in car exhaust because their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet. They also breathe faster than adults so they take in more chemicals every day.
What can I do? You can help by turning off your car when you’ll be parked for more than 10 seconds. You can also try not to use drive-thrus as often. You’ll save money in gas while making our communities healthier! You can also talk to your City Councillor about making our schools idle-free zones.
What is ONEIG doing? The Ontario Nurses for the Environment Interest Group (ONEIG) is working with other environmental organizations to teach Ontarians about the effects of idling. We also want to work with the government to see how they can better support idle-free communities.
Where can I get more information? Dads Against Dirty Air (DADA) also has great anti-idling tips at www.dadacanada.com/
Working along side our Partners in Toronto Public Health and the ChemTRAC project Working group liason: Reena Ahluwalia
What is ChemTRAC? Chemicals are used and released from businesses in our community, from our daily activities and from some of the products in our homes. Evidence links many chemicals to short-term health effects like respiratory problems, and longer-term impacts such as cancer.
The data collected under Toronto's Environmental Reporting and Disclosure Bylaw enables us to better understand the nature of businesses in our city. With this data, ChemTRAC fills a gap in knowledge from national and provincial programs that require reporting from larger users. ChemTRAC helps to complete the picture by collecting information about smaller users and releases of 25 priority substances (chemicals) in Toronto.
Air Quality study shows cumulative health impacts South Etobicoke Local Air Quality Study  (courtesy of Toronto Environmental Aliance)
On Wednesday January 15th 2014, the City of Toronto released their second Local Air Quality Study report in a series of 18 that will cover every neighbourhood in the city. The South Etobicoke Local Air Quality Study has identified an increased risk of cancer in the community due to air pollution. The major source is transportation emissions from cars & trucks.
While it may not be surprising to learn that Highway 427 and the Gardiner Expressway are impacting the health of South Etobicoke residents, we now know exactly which toxic substances to target for pollution prevention.
The South Etobicoke Local Air Quality Study suggests that there is an increased cumulative risk of cancer in the area as a result of the air pollution. The estimated risk is at minimum 44 people in 1 million because one cancer-causing substances (benzo[a]pyrene) and some ChemTRAC reported business emissions have not yet been included in the analysis.
There are solutions out there! We need more and better public transit service so residents can leave their cars at home, stricter emission standards for fuel, real-time air quality monitoring where people live, and economic supports to green local businesses. We can help prevent cancer by preventing pollution. (Toronto Environmental Alliance, 2014)