HARD EVIDENCE OF THE NEED TO CLEAN THE AIR: CAPE report illustrates devastating health impacts of traffic-related air pollution

Toronto | Traditional territories of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, April 21, 2022 – In the wake of the UN health agency’s statement that nearly everybody in the world breathes air that doesn’t meet its standards for air quality, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is releasing its comprehensive review of the recent scientific literature on health impacts linked to transportation-related air pollution (TRAP).

The report, “Mobilizing Evidence: Activating change on traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) health impacts”, brings together hard evidence of the need to clean the air for health promotion, illness prevention and environmental justice. Based on the data from a scoping review of the scientific literature on the adverse human health impacts of transportation-related air pollution, the report summarizes the findings from nearly 1,200 papers, bringing out environmentally-driven health impacts and disparities arising from transportation-related air pollution exposure.

Dr. Samantha Green, Toronto Family Physician, CAPE Board Member and a report reviewer says: “This report highlights the need to build healthy, walkable and bikeable communities with ample green space, rather than sprawling communities that force residents to rely on cars. While addressing the urgent climate crisis through healthy urban planning and electric vehicles, we have an opportunity to reduce the health harms of air pollution and also improve community well-being.”

Among the broad and more detailed health-related impacts of TRAP, the relevance and intersection of transportation-related air pollution to and with the COVID-19 pandemic are highlighted. Of significance, the report presents evidence that transportation-related air pollution and environmental inequality is an intersecting problem. The report calls attention to the inequitable distribution of health risks associated with TRAP in communities already experiencing disproportionate health burdens.

“We now have an important and significant opportunity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the degree to which air quality can affect our health. The links between health and the environment are clear; we need concrete actions to address traffic-related air pollution exposure. Protecting human health and preventing illness must take into account climate-driven disease, socioeconomic status, and racialization,” asserts CAPE Executive Director Raissa Marks.

“Mobilizing Evidence: Activating change on traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) health impacts” concludes with recommendations for preventative and protective measures that can be undertaken to improve associated health outcomes for all impacted by TRAP.

Link to reports: https://cape.ca/reports

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a physician-directed non-profit organization working to secure human health by protecting the planet. Since its founding in 1993, CAPE’s work has achieved substantial policy victories in collaboration with many partners in the environmental and health movements. From coast to coast to coast, the organization operates throughout the country with regional committees active in most provinces and all territories.

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Media Contact:

Pamela Daoust
National Communications Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
514-267-2589 | pamela@cape.ca