Pollution isn’t just a problem on smog days

[attach]6255[/attach]In the summer on smog days, there are times you can almost taste the pollution.

But we need to do more to protect our health than just take precautions on smog-alert days.

Recently I, along with Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher, held a meeting about air quality in the riding at which staff from Toronto’s public health unit presented a local air quality study.

They had maps that showed where we see the biggest effects of pollution. One hot spot is the industrial area in the Port Lands. People at the meeting discussed Can Roof and Ashbridges Bay Sewage Treatment Plant at length. Both have or are taking steps to reduce their pollution.

The City of Toronto is investing over $200 million in the next few years to reduce odour and other emissions from the sewage treatment plant. Can Roof changed its whole production line to reduce their pollution problem.

The second, and more surprising, hot spot was the Don Valley Parkway. The road provides a corridor of pollution all along the west side and north border of our community.

Pollution from these sources exceeded provincial health standards, not in a major way, but noticeably.

The study looked at 27 pollutants and found that levels of benzene, nitrogen dioxides, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and particulate matter exceed Ontario standards. More than a third of this pollution comes from Toronto sources. Transportation is the biggest source.

The Don Valley Parkway hotspot points to the bigger problem from car and truck exhaust. We have to address that one by investing in transit. We all have an interest in making sure that everyone in the GTA can get around on public transit quickly, affordably and comfortably.

Our lungs depend on it and not just during summer’s smoggy days.