A beacon in the smog

Today TEA’s DeTOx Toronto Campaigner was at the Board of Health to push for action on air monitoring.

The Medical Officer of Health notified the Board of Health that every year 1,300 Torontonians take their last breath too soon. People are not just facing ‘premature death’, thousands are hospitalized every year and that’s not including asthma attacks, doctor visits, and sick days.

A second report shared the results of the South Etobicoke Local Air Quality Study, which mapped out where some communities (near highways and industry) have more concentrated pollution than other areas.

The results of both studies sent a clear signal, a beacon in the smog so to speak. Toronto’s air pollution is killing us and the City of Toronto needs to do more to protect our health. City staff presented a number of great recommendations to reduce air pollution. 

City staff are also requesting the Ministry of Environment to do more air monitoring along Toronto's highways and assist in financing mobile air monitoring equipment that could be shared with Ontario health agencies. TEA was at Board of Health to lend our support but we didn't stop there. We also inspired them to dream bigger!

During my speech, I showed them TEA's Google map of all known air monitoring stations in Toronto.

Some of these stations were a surprise to people in the room.

TEA used the map to make a point and inspire some 'out of box' thinking.

In addition to more monitoring, TEA urged government, academia, monitoring experts, and the non-government community to find collaborative ways to collect, share and discuss air pollution data in Toronto. I pointed to the low-cost designs being researched by Natalia at U of T and the citizen science model we want to use in Toronto & Hamilton as innovative examples.

After a round of questions, TEA won a number of recommendations. Most importantly, the Chair introduced our recommendation for City staff and the Medical Officer of Health "to convene a series of roundtables to design a collaborative air monitoring strategy for Toronto" (Ref: Agenda Item HL30.1, Recommendation 4).

Next, it goes to Toronto City Council for a vote on May 6th.