Ontario's Actions to Fight Climate Change Improving Air Quality
2016 Air Quality Report Confirms Air Cleaner Today than 10 Years Ago
The people of Ontario are breathing cleaner air today than a decade ago as a result of the province's actions to reduce pollution and fight climate change.
The 2016 Air Quality in Ontario Report released today shows that since 2007, average concentrations of three key smog-causing pollutants have decreased significantly:
- Carbon monoxide concentrations are 53 per cent lower
- Sulphur dioxide concentrations are 51 per cent lower
- Nitrogen dioxide concentrations are 30 per cent lower
One of Ontario's biggest contributions to the 10-year improvements is the ban of coal-fired generating stations. The ban helped reduce the number of harmful contaminants entering the air and was also among the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in North America.
Setting new or updated air standards for pollutants through local air quality regulations and ongoing Drive Clean testing to reduce pollution from cars, trucks and buses has also contributed to the ongoing improvements in Ontario's air quality. These efforts have helped virtually eliminate smog days in Ontario.
Ontario continues to take action to improve air quality with new rules and requirements that limit air pollution from industrial emitters. This includes:
- Introducing more stringent standards for sulphur dioxide to help reduce pollution from industries and risks to communities close to industrial sources
- Ensuring better environmental protection by setting new requirements for emissions from the mining sector
- Requiring improved emissions control by industry including for benzene, from the petroleum and petrochemical industries
Protecting air quality and regulating air contaminants from industrial sources is part of the government's plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and free preschool child care from 2 ½ to kindergarten.
- The Air Quality in Ontario Report is published annually. The 2016 report marks 46 years of reporting on air quality in Ontario.
- Ontario has one of the most comprehensive air monitoring systems in North America with 38 monitoring sites across the province reporting data hourly.
- In 2016, all Air Quality Health Index stations met Ontario’s outdoor criteria for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide throughout the year.
- Based on the Air Quality Health Index, the province’s air quality was rated in the low risk category for 93 per cent of the year in 2016.
“Over the last 10 years, we made significant progress in protecting our air quality. But we know there is always more to do, especially when it comes to reducing risks to communities close to industrial sources. We’re committed to doing more to improve air quality and ensure a healthier, cleaner environment now and for future generations.”