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Environmental and Workplace Health

Outdoor Air Quality

Within a global context, Canada is achieving significant progress on many fronts: while no one can deny the advantages we have gained because of our social and economic success, we must also acknowledge that the growth of our industries and the expansion of our trade and transportation networks have also had negative impacts on the quality of our air. Although some outdoor air pollutants have declined in recent years due to focused programs to reduce or eliminate the substance, health effects are being found even at low levels.

The Government of Canada has therefore increased its efforts to identify the health threats posed by air pollutants--whether singly or in combination--so that we can make informed decisions about how to best limit and control their sources and reduce human exposure. In this way, we can continue our efforts to protect the health of Canadians and their environments.

What Information is Available

In this section, you will find information about how outdoor air pollution can affect your health and what you can do to reduce your exposure to it.

  • Major Air Pollutants: The air we breathe may contain thousands of chemicals and biological substances, many of which are pollutants. Find out more about the most commonly measured outdoor air pollutants in Canada, as well as common terms like smog.
  • Air Pollution and Health: Are you at risk?  Find out who is most vulnerable to the negative effects of air pollution and the kinds of illnesses most commonly caused or made worse by exposure to poor air quality.
  • Sources of Air Pollution: Although there are many sources of outdoor air pollution, (including natural sources), the two primary contributors are industry and transportation. Learn more about the fuels we commonly use, as well as the greener options becoming available to us.
  • Protecting Your Health: The Government of Canada is taking action on several fronts to protect our health from poor air quality by:
    • introducing new tools such as the Air Quality Health Index, which helps individual Canadians determine their level of risk on any particular day and then decide what to do about it;
    • working with provinces/territories and stakeholders to put in place clean air standards and regulations to decrease air pollution ;
    • establishing renewable fuel standards to reduce the impact from transportation sources
    • working with governments around the world to reduce air pollution through initiatives such as the Next link will take you to another Web site Canada-United States Air Quality Agreement