Canadian Environmental Health Atlas

Understanding Our Environment is Key to Promoting Health and Preventing Disease

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Air Quality

Air Quality

Air Quality

Good air quality is essential to public health. The surrounding air has the potential to affect our health, quality of life, and productivity.

From the time human beings began cooking food over smoky fires, people have been exposed to air pollutants. Before the industrial revolution, however, air pollution occurred on a relatively small scale. With the widespread adoption of the internal combustion engine after 1850, the scale of air pollution changed.

“Environmental justice” refers to the inequitable exposures to environmental hazards or how environmental hazards (1) disproportionately affect humans of lower (2) socioeconomic status (SES).

Secondhand smoke contains over 7000 chemicals, including 50 known carcinogens.  People exposed regularly to secondhand smoke have a greater risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, and breathing problems, including pneumonia, bronchitis, and asthma.