A study conducted in one of the world’s cleanest countries could help other governments think of solutions for managing air pollution.

One thing is certain. Inhaling high concentrations of polluted air affects people’s health. However, a new study looked at the health effects of air pollution from a different perspective.

Census data from more than 7 million Canadians, collected between 1981 and 2016, was combined with air pollution data to find out whether small pollution particles can be harmful to health.

Despite the relatively clean air, the study found that nearly 8,000 Canadians die prematurely each year from air pollution. Notably, even people in the cleanest areas suffer from pollution, according The Guardian.

Even people in the cleanest areas suffer from pollution

The Canadian study was part of three papers funded by the US Health Effects Institute. The other two studies looked at more than 60 million people in the US and 27 million people in Europe.

The papers reached similar conclusions, namely that there is no lower limit that can be used to define air quality that is safe for mankind. That means governments shouldn’t just set targets for the most polluted air people should breathe.

Professor Michael Brauer of the University of British Columbia, who led the Canadian study, said “these findings point to important health benefits that can come from continued reductions in air pollution and regulatory standards, including in countries such as Canada and UK”.

“The health impact is far too great”

“Given that we do not define a safe level of air pollution, we should rethink strategies and focus on reductions from year to year, instead of imposing fixed concentration standards that are analyzed only once every 5 or 10 years. The health impact is far too great,” added Brauer.

Last month, a British review warned that air pollution contributes to dementia and a US study revealed how exposure to traffic-polluted air can trigger asthma.

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