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CANADA - 20 Aug 2007: Forty per cent of Canadians feel their health has been affected by poor air quality and most feel the government is not doing enough to fix the problem, says an IBM survey on the environment's impact on health.
The national survey of 2,956 Canadians conducted in February 2007 also found 12 per cent of Canadians think soil contamination and 11 per cent of Canadians think poor drinking water quality have negatively affected their health.
Researchers are increasingly gathering scientific evidence on the links between poor environmental conditions and chronic illnesses. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated air pollution has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality from cardiopulmonary disease and lung cancer.
"It's clear many Canadians have very serious concerns related to their health and the environment, especially when it comes to the air they breathe," said Neil Stuart, a partner in IBM's healthcare consulting practice. "The good news from the survey is while most feel the environment has gotten worse, the majority also are taking personal action to reduce their risks."
According to the IBM survey, for one in 20 this means moving to another town or city. More than half of respondents, however, focus on reducing the effects of pollutants inside their homes. For others it means spreading the word (46 per cent), or signing a petition (30 per cent).
Young people are most likely to be worried about the air quality-health connection. Respondents 65 years and older are least likely to feel air quality affects their health (29 per cent) versus people ages 15 to 24 (40 per cent) or 24 to 44 (44 per cent). Those ages 45 to 64 are more likely to feel that soil contamination impacted their health than those older and younger than them.
In urban centres with populations over 100,000, 44 per cent feel poor
air quality affected their health, compared to 35 per cent in populations of 5,000 to 99,9999 and 25 per cent in populations of less then 5,000.
Ontarians are most likely to feel that poor air quality has affected
their health (48 per cent), while residents of Saskatchewan feel it would affect them the least (16 per cent). More people from Quebec felt soil pollution affected their health than other provinces. Perhaps it is no surprise people from Ontario (12 per cent) and Quebec (11 per cent) felt that poor water quality had affected their health, as both provinces have seen water contamination issues in recent years.
In general, the report shows 70 per cent of Canadians think the
environment has worsened in the past five years, up from 56 per cent who thought that way in 2001. According to the survey, 63 per cent of Canadians rate the overall quality of the environment as poor or fair, an increase from 54 per cent who felt that way in 2001, the first time the survey was conducted on this topic.
The vast majority of Canadians feel the federal government is not doing enough to reduce air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions.
More than half of all Canadians also strongly agree industry and government, through stricter regulations, tax incentives and new programs, must do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Yet Canadians are still optimistic with two-thirds believing Canada's Kyoto targets on greenhouse gas reduction are still achievable.
About the IBM HealthInsider Survey
The IBM HealthInsider survey was conducted with 2,956 Canadians, with a national margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points in 19 samples out of 20.