December 3, 2020 @ 12:00 noon eastern time
Free webinar featuring Beth Gardiner author of “Choked - Life and Breath in the Age of Air Pollution” - sign up HERE
How is the air you’re breathing today? That’s a question few of us ask ourselves. Maybe we should be asking.
As a volunteer with Sierra Club Canada Foundation, along with a team of other 'citizen scientists' and in cooperation with Ecology Ottawa, we have a project to measure and report on the air quality in Ottawa. It may be encouraging to know that Ottawa's air quality (AQ) is better than over 3000 other major cities in the world.
It may be disturbing to know that even so, Health Canada estimates that in Ottawa, some 500 people die prematurely each year because of air pollution. How serious is that? Covid-19 has caused about 370 premature deaths in Ottawa this year. Across Canada, some 14,600 will die prematurely from air pollution while so far, Covid-19 has claimed some 11,500 lives.
It is located in MacDonald Gardens Park, on Wurtemburg Street, near where Rideau Street crosses the Rideau River toward Vanier. Typically the readings for that site show that pollution is in the "Low Risk" range. Anyone checking that out would likely be comforted to know that and assume that Ottawa's AQ is just fine, especially if they did not know about the annual 500 deaths mentioned above. They would not know that the AQ, just a few steps away from that park, along Rideau Street, is actually at a dangerous level at least some of the time. We say that because a couple of our citizen scientists, using a portable AQ monitor, measured and found those readings. Yet hardly anyone knows about that.
Our project has taken preliminary AQ readings from all across Ottawa in most of its wards. There are lots of areas where the air is quite good, where people can live, work, and play without worrying too much about the air they are breathing. However, there are also a few 'hot spots' where the air is not so healthy, in some places actually dangerous. We will be holding a free webinar on December 3 at 12:00 pm featuring Beth Gardiner, author of the acclaimed book, "Choked", that uncovers the stories of air pollution from across the globe, how bad it is, and how we might improve it. With Ecology Ottawa, we will also be revealing in more detail the results of our own AQ projects here in Ottawa
This webinar should be of interest to anyone who wants to know about the air they are breathing every day. One can secure a virtual seat at the session here.
Please know that the link above will take you to our partner, Ecology Ottawa's registration page hosted by Nationbuilder.
- Jake Cole
Sierra Club Canada Foundation