Smog could be causing as many as 9,500 premature deaths in Ontario, Canada, according to the Ontario Medical Association. It says that smog causes a worsening in respiratory and cardiac illnesses and contributes to earlier mortality as a result.
The OMA's Illness Costs of Air Pollution model finds that 1,000 deaths occurred immediately after times of intense pollution. The model uses air pollution levels, rates of illness and demographic data to project air-related premature deaths for 2008.
The areas with the highest numbers of smog-related deaths in Ontario were Toronto, with 2,130, Peel Region, with 700 and York Region with 590.
"The health impacts from smog range anywhere from itchy eyes and sore throats to respiratory and cardiac illnesses and even premature death," said Dr. Ken Arnold, president of the OMA, in a news release.
He urged Ontarians to take steps to protect themselves by minimizing their exposure to poor air during times when air warnings are in effect.
That includes refraining from strenuous exercise or limiting time outdoors to early morning or evening, when smog levels are lower.
It also means people should drink liquids to prevent dehydration, stay in cool, air-conditioned environments as much as possible and to take preventive steps if they have chronic health problems, such as increasing medication on the recommendation of a physician.
'It's important for those who may be more at risk from smog-related illness to consult their doctor on how they can stay protected," said Arnold.
Campaigners say, "The best way to tackle smog is to design our cities, transportation systems, and energy use in such a way that it reduces air pollution. Smog is not an isolated problem; it is an indicator of poor urban and economic development."