from the Acting Medical Officer of Health, Hastings Prince Edward Counties
(website posting Dec 27, 2005)
PRESS RELEASE: SMOG. July 6, 2005
There has been quite a lot of discussion about Smog recently
partly because of the publication of the daily Smog Index for our community.
And also due to the recently published.... Ontario Medical Association
ICAP study, June 2005.......-Illness Cost of Air Pollution-
Which enumerates on a community by community basis
The number of deaths and illnesses that are currently occurring
In Ontario due to smog.
84 premature deaths in Hastings Prince Edward this year...according to the OMA
As well, if you travel east from the City of Toronto in the summer
You can actually see the stuff..... hanging over the eastern horizon
As a kind of a sickly orange haze.
Keep going, and as you pass the Cement Plant on the Lake Ontario shore
At Oshawa, you will see a long plume of smoke leaving the smoke stack
and snaking its way for miles along the Lake Ontario shoreline
as the cement kiln emissions travel on the prevailing south west wind
Towards..........Quinte West ...and Belleville....and Picton
This is just one example.... of an industrial point source of smog.
As the name itself suggests, Smog is a kind of Smoky Fog
Smog is simply Air ...which is Chemically Polluted
There are four main sources of smog, including:
power generation in coal and oil burning generators;
exhaust from cars and trucks;
burning of waste in back yard and municipal incinerators;
and emissions from industrial smokestacks .
About half of smog which reaches Quinte and Eastern Ontario
comes north in a river of air from the industrialized Ohio valley in the US,
and the other half comes from Southern Ontario.
When that combined American and Southern Ontario smog
arrives here after a day or two of air travel time,
it is further increased by our own local sources.
On the American side, President Bush obviously suffers from
Total environmental blindness... especially on Air quality issues.
He is ripping up the Clean Air Act
And he is killing the Kyoto Agreement.
Meanwhile, here in Ontario .....we are a little smug about Smog
People in Ontario seem to believe
that there is effective regulation of air quality
by the Government of Ontario
But there is evidence that this is not the case.
First of all, two international commissions,
(International Joint Commission of the Great Lakes;
And the Commission for Environmental Cooperation)
have both recently focused on federal government data
which reported that at least One Billion Kg of chemicals
(that is B as in UnBelievable..... One Billion Kg)
were released by Canadian Industries
into the Great Lakes Basin environment........Mostly into the air
in each of the five years 1998 to 2002....
And there was no reduction ....in this amount of Air Pollution
over that 5 yr interval
It is an outrageous amount.........
1 Billion Kg of Canadian industrial waste chemicals
Dumped into the Great Lakes Basin......each year
Secondly, we have looked at 2 or 3 local industries
and we see the same pattern
of profitable industries being allowed to pollute the Air
It appears that the MoE
Which is the Ontario regulator of Air quality
Is behind in its work.
The former Minister Herself recently said as much.
In Ontario we have made progress in the regulation of Water Quality
Bu in the matter of Air Quality......... industrial air pollution
Remains out of control
Smog is the obvious result...
You can see it....you can smell it.....and you have to breathe it.
And because of that..........smog is causing injury to human health.
The effect of smog on a community... is the same as....
the effect of cigarette smoke.... on an individual.
As Cancer Care Ontario has pointed out...........in a recent document
(their June 2005 document
"Insight in Cancer, Volume 4, Environmental Exposures and Cancer")
Both.... cigarette smoke....and Smog
cause...... lung cancer.... heart disease..... chronic lung disease,
and, like cigarette smoke........ smog probably affects unborn infants.
Action needs to be taken.....by individual citizens......and by government regulators.
Citizens can do a great deal to Stop Smog...
4 ways........ that I could mention are:
First: Use less electricity and gasoline.
For example (unless you are elderly or asthmatic or otherwise sick)
Turn off the Air conditioner in your home or car as much as possible.
Second, that large pickup truck or oversized car
that you are driving around town.....is a public health hazard.
Get rid of it....Drive a smaller car.....and drive it less.
Third, if you live out in the country....
stop burning waste in that back yard burn barrel
and if you live in town.....
tell the Board of Health that you are opposed
to the construction of new waste incinerators.
Finally, Ontario Air Standards are outdated.
Tell the Board of Health....that you want effective regulation
of industrial air pollution ...in the province.
At the present time....it is just not happening.
As a final thought...in my term as Medical Officer of Health over the past year
there was only one citizen delegation at our monthly Board of Health meetings.
(It was an excellent presentation by two citizens on pesticides.)
Citizens are invited and encouraged to call Board of Health members
or the MOH about health issues (such as smog)
and citizens should consider making brief presentations at Board of Health meetings, which occur on the 2nd Friday of each month.
Call 966 5500, Ext 201
A.C. Goddard-Hill, Acting MOH, Hastings Prince Edward July 6, 2005
(Disclaimer:These are my own opinions and not necessarily those of the Hastings-Prince Edward Counties Board of Health.)