Air Pollution :: New index measures health risk from air pollution in Toronto

A new index that measures the health risk from air pollution in Toronto was launched today in partnership with the federal and provincial governments and the City of Toronto.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is a pilot project that measures the daily health risk from local air pollution, and gives those who are most vulnerable the information they need to protect themselves.

?Air pollution is responsible for 1,700 premature deaths and 6,000 hospital admissions in Toronto each year,? said Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown. ?This new index will provide timely and accurate information on air pollution health risks and how to minimize them. The index will be particularly useful to vulnerable individuals, such as seniors and those with asthma.?

Toronto is the first Ontario city to pilot the index. The Toronto pilot will run for approximately 18 months, with the intent of expanding to the Greater Toronto Area in 2008.

The AQHI will provide Torontonians with information on:

– Health risk from current air pollution levels, based on a number from 1 to 10+
– Forecasts of health risk from air – today, tonight and tomorrow
– Level of health risk – low, moderate, high, or very high
– Who is at greatest risk from air pollution
– Actions individuals can take to minimize their health risks
– Information on how to reduce air pollution

“The Air Quality Health Index is an innovative and useful tool that Ontarians need — the costs of bad air are just too high for our health and our economy,” said Ontario Environment Minister Laurel Broten. “I am pleased that our government is able to provide the necessary air quality data to make this pilot a reality.”

The AQHI supports many of the City of Toronto?s initiatives to reduce air pollution.

“The City of Toronto’s new Climate Change, Clean Air and Sustainable Energy Action Plan underlines our commitment to improving air quality and reducing smog-causing emissions city wide,? said City of Toronto Mayor David Miller. ?The AQHI is an innovative tool that will help Torontonians better understand the impacts of air pollution.”

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