Health & Wellbeing

Human health is intimately connected to the health of the planet. We need fresh water, clean oceans, and natural spaces that contain a rich array of animals, insects and plants. Promoting education about and recreation in our natural spaces has been a part of the Sierra Club philosophy since it was founded in 1892.

How serious is air pollution? We need to dig a little deeper to find out

How serious is air pollution in Ottawa? We have our BreatheEasy project underway to find out. First, using small hand held air sensors, we are measuring air quality in different areas all across the city and reporting our results publicly. We are also digging out existing information on air quality from a variety of sources both in Canada and around the world. It turns out that globally, there are a lot of people doing serious work on this subject and are readily sharing their findings with open reports and research results.

All Hands on Deck Webinar - How's the Air You're Breathing?

How's the air we breathe today? Most of us would likely answer that question with "It seems fine", assuming that air quality is not something to worry about. You might be right. However, depending on where you live, work and play, every day you may be breathing unhealthy air - air that is potentially dangerous to your health and those around you.

Consider these facts, backed up by credible sources:
1. In Canada, about 14,600 die from dirty air quality every year.
2. Worldwide, only about 5% of us are breathing truly healthy air.
3. Living near a busy intersection can increase the risk of contracting dementia later in life.
4. Air pollution can cause a measurable decrease in IQ for children and a measurable loss in lung function.
5. Across the world, dirty air causes some seven million early deaths annually

The Sierra Club Canada Foundation has a project underway to measure and report on the outdoor air quality (AQ) in the city. While the official, government-operated AQ station in Ottawa reports levels generally in the "Low Risk" category, our preliminary air tracking results are finding areas, or air pollution 'hotspots', where the AQ can be quite dangerous. In this webinar, we will be showing what we've measured so far, what impact this may be having on our health, and we'll talk about possible actions we can take, as individuals and collectively at a city-wise basis, to improve the air we are breathing every day.

The speaker, Jake Cole, is retired from a career in six departments in our federal government. Amongst other roles, he was former Environment Director, Canadian Coast Guard; National Manager, Canada's R-2000 Home Program; Canada's representative for renewable energy projects with the International Energy Agency. He ran a well-received employee health and wellness program for one of Canada's largest federal departments. He co-chaired the national charity, Prevent Cancer Now. He has run for the federal Green Party twice (coming third in his riding in 2008 with one of the highest percentage of Green Party voters in Canada). He is currently with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, leading a team of volunteer 'Citizen Scientists' on a project to measure and report on air quality in the Ottawa region.

Indigenous & Environmental Groups Call for Moratorium on Mining Development in Ring of Fire

Sierra Club Canada Foundation has joined Indigenous and environmental groups in requesting a moratorium on a mining development in Ontario's "Ring of Fire". As it stands, the region’s wetlands and watersheds are not protected under this development and local communities, both upstream and downstream, are in need of access to clean water, housing and other health services.

How’s the air you’re breathing today? The BreatheEasy project can help you find out

By Jake Cole and Lucy Bain. 

According to Health Canada, some 14,600 premature deaths across the country are caused annually by air pollution. In Ottawa alone, approximately 500 deaths are deemed pollution-related each year. Yet, the topic of air quality (AQ) and its impacts are rarely discussed. It remains a silent killer.

That Nice Smell of Wood Smoke in The Air - Maybe It's Not So Nice

If you've walked around a neighbourhood when people have their fireplaces going, you've probably noticed that woodsy scent wafting through the air. Some would even find that a soothing, pleasant smell. You may be surprised to learn that the smoke from a wood stove, a wood burning fireplace, or an open campfire, is not at all good for you. In fact, in some countries, like the U.K., wood-burning produces more than double the air pollution that results from traffic exhaust.

The Sneaky Culprits Behind Air Pollution

So there I was on that sunny summer afternoon, just getting started with our Sierra Club Canada project, “Breathe Easy,” to measure air pollution all across Ottawa. I was working from home, all the windows open, when suddenly there's a cacophony of clattering noise starting up somewhere in the neighbourhood and a real stinky smell wafting into the yard and in through my windows. I investigate to find that a local hedge trimming company has unleashed a team of three ardent cutters on my adjacent neighbour's back yard. I close up all my windows and whip over to see what's going on.

The Prairie Living Room

The Prairie Living Room

Who could have predicted that in 2020 we would have to make to collective decision to stay inside our living room for extended period of time? These have been hard times for many.

We wanted to celebrate the hard decision our community has made to physically distance during Covid-19 by providing a new 'living room'. This living room is green, playful, beautiful and reflects our local flora. Now more than ever we need the benefits of nature for our physical and mental health.