Air pollution is on the rise and could be taking a toll on your health. The adoption of policies such as the Air Quality Guidelines by the World Health Organization, the Clean Air Act of 1963, and others of its kind, have proven successful in the overall improvement of air quality, but a lot of regulations on a micro level are still needed for a substantial impact. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 90% of the world’s population is still living in areas that don’t meet the WHO’s air quality guidelines. High levels of air pollution have major health impacts, such as lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases such as asthma. And although Canada is far down the WHO’s list of worst-offenders, there are many Canadian cities that can be at risk of health related issues from poor air quality.
In this article, we take a look at some of the cities in Canada with the worst and best air quality and discuss a few ways in which to take charge of the quality of the air you and your loved ones breathe.
While there are some major cities in Canada that have moderately good or even great air quality, there are many cities that suffer from high levels of air pollution and poor air quality. Here are a few Canadian cities and their Air Quality Index (AQI) as recorded in July of 2021.
Canadian Cities With The Worst Air Quality:
- Prince George, British Columbia - The largest city in northern British Columbia, Prince George has a population of 74,003. The city’s current AQI is 183, which is considered unhealthy and controlling indoor air quality with a high MERV rating filter is highly recommended. The PM2.5 concentration in Prince George is 117.5 micrograms/cubic meter, which is 11 times over the WHO exposure recommendation.
- Logan Lake, British Columbia - Logan Lake, though a small district in the Southern Interior of BC, currently has an AQI of 167 which is regarded as unhealthy. The district houses a small population of 2,073 but at the moment, has a PM2.5 concentration of 86 micrograms/cubic meter which is a whopping 8 times more than the WHO exposure recommendation.
- Whitecourt, Alberta - With a population of 10,204, the AQI recorded at Whitecourt is 127 which is deemed unhealthy for people that suffer from respiratory issues. The PM2.5 density is 46 micrograms/cubic meter, about 4 times more than the WHO exposure recommendation.
- Grande Prairie, Alberta - Grande Prairie has a population of 63,166 and its current AQI is 124 that also falls under the Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups category. The PM2.5 concentration in the air is 44.9 micrograms/cubic meter, along with traces of NO2 and SO2. For those living in this area, controlling your indoor air with air purifiers and high MERV rating filters is highly recommended.
- Edmonton, Alberta - Edmonton currently has an AQI of 87 which falls under the Moderate category. The air quality is acceptable, but there are a few pollutants that pose a threat to sensitive groups, with respiratory issues or a compromised immune system. The PM2.5 concentration is 23 micrograms/cubic meter, two times over the WHO exposure recommendation. Furnace filters in Edmonton should be changed regularly. The city of Edmonton has a population of 932,546, and a PM2.5 concentration of 23 micrograms/cubic meter, this is two times over the WHO exposure recommendation.
Canadian Cities With The Best Air Quality:
- Montreal, Quebec - The most recently recorded AQI in Montreal is 12, which means that the air quality in the city is good. The PM2.5 concentration is a meagre 6 micrograms/cubic meter. The population of Montreal is 1,704,694.
- Toronto, Ontario - With a population of 2,731,571, Toronto currently records an AQI of 10 and has good air quality overall. The PM2.5 concentration is 9 micrograms/cubic meter which is also fairly low.
- Winnipeg, Manitoba - Winnipeg is currently experiencing an AQI of 5 which is indicative of good air quality. The population of the city is 705,224.
- Guelph, Ontario - Housing a population of 131,794, Guelph is a city with great air quality. The current AQI in Guelph is 1.
- Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland - Grand Falls-Windsor generally experiences good air quality with minimum pollutants present. The AQI in this town is currently 0, with NO2 being the only pollutant present in trace amounts.
What are the Main Causes of Air Pollution in Canada?
- There are several natural sources of air pollution in Canada, including but not limited to volcanoes, forest fires, and VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) emissions from vegetation.
- Man-made sources of air pollution in the country include vehicular and industrial emissions, wood-burning, construction, energy production, and agriculture amongst others.
- The rapid growth of Canada’s economy and population has led to a steady increase in the demand for transportation, housing, and goods and services which has, in turn, led to the increased usage of fossil fuels, thereby contributing to air pollution.
The Health Impacts of Polluted Air
Prolonged exposure to air pollutants can have a myriad of short and long-term health effects.
Sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides reduce lung function, cause lung irritability, and lead to asthma flare-ups. Ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter, the main constituents of acid rain and smog, cause nose, throat, and eye irritations, allergy and asthma flare-ups, shortness of breath, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, increased vulnerability to cardiovascular disease, and even premature death.
Carbon monoxide, produced by the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon-based fuels, is extremely damaging to the overall health of a person but is especially harmful to those with preexisting respiratory conditions or heart disease. Ammonia, which is another common air pollutant resulting from fertilizer production and waste management, can irritate the nose, eyes, and throat.
The negative effects of air pollution are many and can range in severity from mild and acute to extremely severe and chronic. With air pollution on the rise, it is therefore imperative that you take control and ensure that the air you and your loved ones breathe is safe and pure. PureFilters offers a wide range of furnace filters in Canada across a variety of brands and MERV ratings so that the air in your home is free from harmful contaminants that may otherwise affect your health.