New Research Studies Effectiveness of Air Quality Alert Programs in Canada

Dr. Tarik Benmarhnia, an affiliated researcher of the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, co-authored a recently published paper assessing the effectiveness of air quality alerts in Toronto, Canada. Air quality alerts are issued by governments on days when high levels of air pollution are detected in an attempt to lower adverse public health effects. The authors looked at all individuals residing in the city of Toronto in Ontario, Canada from 2003 to 2012, as well as the seven likely health outcomes of increased air pollution levels — cardiovascular-related mortality, respiratory-related mortality, hospital admissions or emergency-department visits for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They applied a regression discontinuity design to assess the effect that the alert program may have on hospital admission rates. The study revealed that use of alerts led to a small decrease in respiratory illness, but did not affect the other health effects examined. The authors suggest that more effort should be made to reduce air pollution starting from the source, such as implementing enforced long term public actions.

The paper, “Effect of air quality alerts on human health: a regression discontinuity analysis in Toronto, Canada” published by Elsevier Ltd., is available for free access through the National Center for Biotechnology Information under the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Read the full paper here.

Learn more about Dr. Benmarhnia and other research affiliates here.

Photo by Ken Lund