Damaging fine particles of smog can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.

It's estimated 5,900 Canadian deaths each year can be attributed to air pollution, a new report from Health Canada says.

The department revised its previous estimate of 5,000 deaths per year from 2002, using data from eight Canadian cities.

Researchers at Health Canada and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said they calculated the higher figure after correcting a statistical glitch in a previous model.

Air pollution and mortality data were collected in Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor, Ont., Calgary and Vancouver.

Smog alerts are issued in part because air pollutants are known to cause breathing problems and aggravate respiratory and cardiac conditions, which are leading causes of hospitalizations and death in Canada.

Health Canada said the federal government uses such research to improve air quality policies, such as the Canada-U.S. air quality strategy, as well as to inform people about how their actions can reduce air pollution and its health risks.