A new study shows that living close to a pollution source is more likely to negatively affect your health if you live in urban Canada’s most deprived areas. According to research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), more than 1 million Canadians in lower socio-economic status areas live within 1 kilometre of a significant industrial or commercial pollution source, compared with approximately 325,000 Canadians in higher socio-economic status areas. The residents of these poorer areas are more likely to be hospitalized for circulatory and respiratory diseases than people in more affluent neighbourhoods who live equally close to a pollution source.
Examining hospitalization rates among the population living in the most deprived areas in major Canadian cities revealed the following:
The data shows that a similar decline in hospitalization rates for circulatory and respiratory diseases with increased residential distance from a pollution-emitting facility did not exist for residents of less deprived areas.
The study also examined heat patterns of neighbourhoods in Montréal and Toronto. In both cities, neighbourhoods with a higher proportion of built and artificial surfaces to natural environments were the hottest; these neighbourhoods tended to be the least affluent. And in both Montréal and Toronto, the odds of reaching or exceeding temperatures of 30oC were significantly higher in the most deprived areas.
While hot weather has been linked with increased mortality rates, hot days and short heat waves were not found to significantly raise hospitalization rates for respiratory and circulatory diseases in Montréal or Toronto. Emergency department visits in Toronto also did not experience a significant boost during the hot periods examined.
Established in 1994, CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians. Funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments, CIHI is guided by a Board of Directors made up of health leaders across the country. Our vision is to improve Canada’s health system and the well-being of Canadians by being a leading source of unbiased, credible and comparable information that will enable health leaders to make better-informed decisions.