Key Topics in Air Quality
Air quality in B.C. communities is quite good by Canadian and U.S. environmental standards. However, a 2003 report on air quality by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer estimates that current levels
of outdoor air pollution in BC cause 25-250 deaths each year (compared to 108 deaths per year from smoking).
Some B.C. communities may experience periods of unacceptable air quality, which can have adverse effects on human health, the environment and visibility. In the North and the Interior, particulate
matter pollution from industrial and domestic sources — especially wood smoke — is the crucial air quality issue.
Ground-level ozone from transportation sources is the major air pollution
problem in the Lower Mainland, and particulate matter to a lesser degree.
Even areas that meet the national standard of “good” air quality may not be good enough. Scientists have found that even low levels of particulate matter in the air can heighten the risk
of lung and heart disease.
As B.C.’s population grows, especially in the Greater Vancouver area, the importance of keeping our air clean becomes more apparent. More people will mean more motor vehicles and emissions, and
increased pollution from other human activities. All sectors of society can take action to reduce emissions and protect the air.
In this section: