Sixty-one people. It’s a couple of hockey teams and their coaches. It’s three classrooms at any school in the city. It’s a full city bus. It’s how many people die in the North every year because of poor air quality.
That’s according to a study by Dr. Catherine Elliott and Dr. Ray Copes. Their study, which drew on international studies on the health impacts of PM 2.5, particulate matter 2.5 microns and smaller, estimated mortality rates for Northern and Interior communities based on the average PM 2.5 level. The full study will be released in February.
It’s a chilling picture for us here in the North.
“I think it is underestimated by many people,” said Northern Health medical health officer Dr. David Bowering of the effects of poor air quality.
If all of the North had PM 2.5 levels equal to Terrace, there would have been approximately 263 fewer deaths from 2001 to 2005, the study shows. If all communities had the same air quality as the Vancouver Airport, there would have been 127 fewer deaths
It’s frightening to think that many people die in the North because of poor air quality. Is it acceptable? Certainly not. It’s time to demand action from our elected officials. We need more than endless studies.
Real, substantive improvements to our air quality won’t happen until the public starts demanding it. Think of 61 people you know probably most of your family and friends. Imagine all of them dying next year. If you could stop that from happening, would you? It’s time to start demanding that deaths due to air quality don’t occur.