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The challenge of pollution and health in Canada

  • Niladri BasuEmail author
  • Bruce P. Lanphear
Commentary
  • 15 Downloads

Abstract

The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, which conducted a comprehensive assessment of the health and economic impacts of key forms of toxic pollutants in air, water, and soil, estimated that 9 million people die annually from the impact of pollution, which represents 16% of all deaths worldwide. Over 90% of these pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. While Canada ranks seventh lowest in the world, the burden is still too high; many pollutants were not considered in the Commission’s work, and vulnerable populations—including the poor, women, children, and Indigenous peoples—are disproportionally affected by pollution in Canada. As Canadian co-authors in the Lancet Commission, here we consider the impact of pollution on the health of Canadians and discuss how best to address the problem.

Keywords

Public health Pollution Review Canada Disease Environment 

Résumé

La Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, qui a mené une évaluation complète des impacts des principales formes de pollution de l’air, de l’eau et du sol sur la santé et l’économie, a estimé que 9 millions de personnes meurent chaque année des conséquences de la pollution, ce qui représente 16 % de tous les décès dans le monde. Plus de 90 % de ces décès liés à la pollution ont lieu dans les pays à revenu faible ou intermédiaire. Bien que le Canada se classe 7e parmi les pays du monde ayant le moins de décès, le fardeau que la pollution impose aux Canadiens et Canadiennes est tout de même imposant. Notamment, plusieurs combinaisons polluant-maladie ne sont pas incluses dans les travaux de la Commission, et les personnes pauvres, les femmes, les enfants et les Autochtones sont atteints de manière disproportionnée par la pollution au Canada. En tant que co-auteurs canadiens du rapport de la Commission, nous examinons dans cet article les impacts de la pollution sur la santé des Canadiens et Canadiennes et discutons de la meilleure façon de régler le problème.

Mots-clés

Santé publique Pollution La revue Canada Maladie Environnement 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

Dr. Lanphear is serving as an expert witness in a case of lead poisoning in Milwaukee and Flint, Michigan, but he receives no personal compensation for these services. Over the past 5 years, Dr. Lanphear has served as an expert witness in California for the plaintiffs in a public nuisance case of childhood lead poisoning, a Proposition 65 case on behalf of the California Attorney General’s Office, a Canadian tribunal on trade dispute about using lead-free galvanized wire in stucco lathing, and cases of lead poisoning in Milwaukee, WI, and Flint, Michigan, but he receives no personal compensation for these services. Dr. Lanphear has served as a paid consultant for the California Department of Toxic Substance Control.

Dr. Basu is a member of the Government of Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) Science Committee. Dr. Basu has received research funding from diverse sources to study chemical pollution, and over the past 3 years, these have included NSERC, IDRC, US NIH (Fogarty International Center, US NIEHS), US EPA, Genome Canada, Genome Quebec, First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program, the Northern Contaminants Program, the World Health Organization, and McGill University.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.BC Children’s HospitalSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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