While the air in Hamilton is cleaner than it was twenty years ago, there is still considerable work to be done, according to a study released by Clean Air Hamilton.
The community organization’s 2012 Air Quality Progress Report shows that air pollutant levels are significantly lower today than they were in the mid-1990s, but over the past three to four years, some pollutants have increased.
Also, major highways have much higher levels of air pollution, and being within 200 metres of arterial roads and major highways drastically increases exposure to pollutants.
"I always tell people to turn on the ventilation system in their car when they’re on the highway because the concentration of pollutants is so high," said the report’s author, Dr. Denis Corr.
Here are 10 key facts about Hamilton air from the report:
1. Air pollutants contribute to about 186 premature deaths, 395 respiratory hospital admissions and 322 cardiovascular hospital admissions each year in Hamilton.
2. The average mortality risk due to exposure to air pollution in Hamilton is 4.6 per cent. Nitrogen oxide is the type of pollutant found to most significantly impact health.
3. The transportation sector (such as cars and trucks) is the leading source of nitrogen oxide (NO).
4. Dundas has the lowest mortality risk associated with air pollution, whereas the Jones Road area has the highest
5. In 2012, there were nearly twenty smog days in Hamilton compared to four in 2009, eight in 2010 and two in 2011.
6. Air pollution levels are usually higher below the escarpment because of industry and higher density urban development
7. Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from long-range sources, primarily the mid-Western United States
8. Exposure to air pollution is three times greater on the QEW/403 than the neighbourhood average.
9.Deaths caused by air pollution have dropped 19 per cent since 2003
10. Greenhouse gas emissions in Hamilton dropped 14.5 per cent between 2006 and 2010.