Smog and Health
Smog is a general term use to describe pollutants in outdoor air. In urban areas, sources of pollution include vehicles (cars and trucks) and industry. Because pollutants travel through the air, pollution can affect air quality at great distances from where the pollution was originally released. Consequently, even rural areas are affected by smog.
Smog is associated with premature deaths, and can negatively impact pre-existing health conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, heart disease and diabetes, resulting in increased hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room or the doctor's office. Seniors, children, and pregnant women are especially at risk of experiencing adverse effects of exposure to air pollution. Heart and lung conditions can become worse with poor air quality. Air pollution can also irritate the eyes, nose and throat and can cause wheezing, coughing and breathing difficulties.
Health risks may also increase during high smog levels for those who play sports or exercise outdoors, or others active outside (e.g., gardeners). When you exercise, you breathe harder than normal, bringing dirty air deeper into your lungs. You also breathe mostly through your mouth, bypassing the filtering action of the nose. In addition to the above noted symptoms, people who are active outdoors when smog levels are high may have difficulty performing at their best because the lungs cannot work at full capacity.
Smog affects everyone's health. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution than others. Smog is especially harmful to:
Individuals from these high-risk groups can experience health effects at lower levels of pollution.
There are many things you can do to protect yourself while enjoying the outdoors:
The City Of Hamilton has a plan to minimize the contribution their operations can have on the environment. From the industry leading Green Fleet Plan to the City’s collaboration with Clean Air Hamilton and the Hamilton Air Monitoring Network, the City Of Hamilton supports sustainable solutions. The City of Hamilton also passed an Idling By-law to limit the pollutants released by all vehicles, not just those operated by the City.
The City of Hamilton Public Health Services are working to bring a new air quality forecasting service to Hamilton. The new Air Quality health Index (AQHI) will descibe the air pollution in terms of the risk to health, and offer specific health advise based on anticipated levels of pollution.