Skip to main content

Clean Air Day brings added importance as wildfire smoke continues to spread

On Clean Air Day, public transit was free in Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton, N.B.

“We think that people making changes in their day-to-day transportation is the most impactful thing that a person can do,” said Melanie Langille, president and CEO of NB Lung. “There really is no safe level of air pollution.”

Clean Air Day provides a timely opportunity to encourage people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to Langille.

“Every little bit you’re exposed to, every tailpipe going down the road, increases your chance for developing lung disease,” said Langille.

This year’s Clean Air Day brings added significance given more than 100 million people on both sides of the border are living under air quality alerts, prompting some to mask up as the smoke thickens over numerous North American cities.

The smoke from Canadian wildfires, choked with particulate matter, blanketed New York City last night.

“These small microscopic particles,” said McGill University professor Jill Baumgartner. “When you breathe them in, they can penetrate deep into your lungs and then get into your bloodstream.”

Michelle Donaldson from LungNSPEI suggested air quality concerns have now grown to alarming levels, as the wildfire smoke spreads across large sections of North America.

“You can see the smoke in the air, and you can see how far is travelling as well,” said Donaldson. “It will travel thousands of kilometres and linger in the air for weeks.”

The health and economic issues related to air quality concerns are highlighted by some sobering statistics. Poor air quality in Canada alone can result in more than 15,000 deaths each year.

“It also results in 2.7 million days of asthma symptoms and 35 million days of acute respiratory systems,” said Donaldson, who added health problems brought on by air quality issues, can bring billions of dollars in economic strain on the health-care system. Top Stories

Stay Connected