Air Health Indicator – Ozone and Fine Particulate Matter
The Air Health Indicator (AHI)Footnote  provides an overview of the public health impacts attributable to outdoor air pollution in Canada. It shows an upward trend in cardiopulmonary mortality (deaths from heart-and lung-related diseases) attributable to ozone (O3) exposure. No upward or downward trend in cardiopulmonary mortality attributable to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure is observed.
Cardiopulmonary mortalities are not the result solely of air pollution exposure but rather the combination of a variety of risk factors. Other risk factors that contribute include age, sex, race, obesity, smoking history, education, marital status, diet, alcohol consumption and occupational exposures. The AHI aims to identify the risk for cardiopulmonary mortalities related solely to exposure to air pollution in the form of O3 and PM2.5.
The O3 component of the AHI model indicates a slight increasing trend since 1990 and suggests that about 5% of cardio-pulmonary mortalities were attributable to ozone exposure overall at the national level. The PM2.5 component of the AHI suggests neither an increasing nor decreasing trend between 2001 and 2010. About 1% of cardiopulmonary mortalities could be attributable to PM2.5 exposure.
Cardiopulmonary (CP) mortality risk attributable to air pollutants, Canada, 1990 to 2010
This graph shows the percent of cardiopulmonary mortality risk attributable to ozone and fine particulate matter components of the Air Health Indicator. The ozone component of the Air Health Indicator model indicates a slight increasing trend since 1990 and suggests that about 5% of cardio-pulmonary mortalities were attributable to ozone exposure overall at the national level. The fine particulate matter component of Air Health Indicator suggests neither an increasing nor decreasing trend between 2001 and 2010. About 1% of cardiopulmonary mortalities could be attributable to fine particulate matter exposure.
Note: Percent cardiopulmonary mortality risk refers to the percent of cardiopulmonary mortalities estimated by the AHI model to be attributable to outdoor ambient O3 and PM2.5. Mortality data are not available for 2008 to 2010. As a result, an average cardiopulmonary mortality risk is being used to estimate mortality risk for these years.
Source: Health Canada, Environmental Health Sciences and Research Bureau, Population Studies Division.
Canadians are regularly exposed to air pollution from outdoor sources such as transportation and industrial activities. This exposure can lead to the onset or worsening of breathing difficulty, the development of chronic lung disease or heart attacks and strokes. These health effects contribute to lost productivity, increased doctors’ and emergency room visits and hospital admissions, and mortality. The AHI has been developed as a tool to monitor the impacts of O3 and PM2.5 exposure over time on the health of Canadians.
Specifically, the AHI monitors the percentage of all cardiopulmonary mortalities that can be attributed to exposure to two important outdoor air pollutants: O3 (monitored in 20 cities) and PM2.5 (monitored in 18 cities).
This indicator is used to measure progress toward Target 2.1: Outdoor Air Pollutants – Improve outdoor air quality by ensuring compliance with new or amended regulated emission limits by 2020 and thus reducing emissions of air pollutants in support of AQMS objectives of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013–2016.
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