Nurses for Safe Renewable Power

Looking for a healthy environment for everyone

More on respiratory disease: let’s look at the facts

As we said, the mantra of the pro-wind power development movement is that “coal is killing people.” Now, there are reasons not to have coal-fired power generation–and in fact, less than 10% of Ontario’s power is provided now via coal–but we need to have the truth about air pollution in Ontario. Because right now, we’re not getting it. Photos of crying children, as depicted in the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario journal, are manipulative and not truthful.

Here are some interesting notes.

The biggest problem is smoking!

“Canada is facing an increase in chronic respiratory diseases, partly because of its aging population and previous smoking rates. … Smoking is the main preventable risk factor for respiratory diseases like lung cancer.” Conference Board of Canada. How Canada Performs>Mortality Due to Respiratory System Diseases.

“In 2002, tobacco use accounted for $17 billion in costs to Canadians…the direct costs attributed to tobacco use were estimated to be $4.4 billion.” Life and Breath: respiratory disease in Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, 2007, page 14.

Statistics can be manipulated for dramatic effect.

“PM [particulate matter]2.5 emissions from coal-fired power plants are at levels well below what is considered not a problem when coming from other, more picturesque sources. The Ontario Clean Air Alliance has published claims that Ontario’s coal-fired power plants cause 316 deaths, 440 hospital admissions, 522 emergency room visits and 158,000 minor illnesses each year. Its numbers are based on a 2005 simulation study for the provincial government that focues almost entirely on the effects of PM2.5. (It also considered ground-level ozone, but emphasized that most of the ozone prevursors originated in the United States.)

“How plausible are these claims? If correct, they imply that wood-burning fireplaces cause 520 deaths per year, etc. But that is nothing compared with the implied effects from people driving on unpaved roads. According to Environment Canada, dust from unpaved roads in Ontario puts a whopping 90,116 tonnes of PM2.5 into our air each year, nearly 130 times the amount from coal-fired power generation. Using the Clean Air Alliance method for computing deaths, particulates from country-road usage kills 40,739 people per year, quite the massacre considering there are only about 90,000 deaths from all causes in Ontario each year. Who knew? That quite drive up back country roads to the cottage for a weekend of barbecuses, cozy fires and marshmallow roasts is a form of genocide.” Ross McKitrick, professor of Economic, University of Guelph, Financial Post, May 16, 2011Advances in primary care can achieve a great deal in asthma management.

The Ontario Health Quality Council reported on a study of the impact of the Primary Care Asthma Care Pilot Project which was launched in 2002, as part of Ontario’s Asthma Plan of Action. Certified asthma educators were incorporated into the primary care team to provide education and coordinate activities. The results were a 30-percent dropĀ  in asthma attacks, a 34-percent drop in daytime asthma symptoms, and a 50-percent drop in emergency room visits.

Guttman et al reported in Pediatrics that use of a pre-printed order sheet and access to a pediatrician for consultation were key strategies in improving asthma management among children. The 11 emergency departments using the strategies reported a reduction in return visit rates. Pediatrics, Vol. 120, No. 6, 2007.

Why spend billions on wind power when people are dying from smoking?

“Governments have an obligation to protect the health of the people they serve. Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Ontario. Every year more than 13,000 people in Ontario die because of tobacco use–one person almost every 40 minutes.” Building on Our Gains, Taking Action Now, Report from the Tobacco Strategy Advisory Group to the Minister of Health Promotion and Sport, October 2010. Doris Grinspun, executive director Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, was a member of the advisory group.

Keep reading, keep learning!

Email us at


Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: