IBM survey: Canadians fearful poor air quality is affecting their health

    MARKHAM, ON, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - Forty per cent of Canadians feel their
health has been affected by poor air quality and most feel the government is
not doing enough to fix the problem, says an IBM survey on the environment's
impact on health.
    The national survey of 2,956 Canadians conducted in February 2007 also
found 12 per cent of Canadians think soil contamination and 11 per cent of
Canadians think poor drinking water quality have negatively affected their
    Researchers are increasingly gathering scientific evidence on the links
between poor environmental conditions and chronic illnesses. In fact, the
Canadian Medical Association Journal stated air pollution has been associated
with increased morbidity and mortality from cardiopulmonary disease and lung
    "It's clear many Canadians have very serious concerns related to their
health and the environment, especially when it comes to the air they breathe,"
said Neil Stuart, a partner in IBM's healthcare consulting practice. "The good
news from the survey is while most feel the environment has gotten worse, the
majority also are taking personal action to reduce their risks."
    According to the IBM survey, for one in 20 this means moving to another
town or city. More than half of respondents, however, focus on reducing the
effects of pollutants inside their homes. For others it means spreading the
word (46 per cent), or signing a petition (30 per cent).
    Young people are most likely to be worried about the air quality-health
connection. Respondents 65 years and older are least likely to feel air
quality affects their health (29 per cent) versus people ages 15 to 24
(40 per cent) or 24 to 44 (44 per cent). Those ages 45 to 64 are more likely
to feel that soil contamination impacted their health than those older and
younger than them.
    In urban centres with populations over 100,000, 44 per cent feel poor air
quality affected their health, compared to 35 per cent in populations of 5,000
to 99,9999 and 25 per cent in populations of less then 5,000.

    Regional differences

    Ontarians are most likely to feel that poor air quality has affected
their health (48 per cent), while residents of Saskatchewan feel it would
affect them the least (16 per cent). More people from Quebec felt soil
pollution affected their health than other provinces. Perhaps it is no
surprise people from Ontario (12 per cent) and Quebec (11 per cent) felt that
poor water quality had affected their health, as both provinces have seen
water contamination issues in recent years.
    In general, the report shows 70 per cent of Canadians think the
environment has worsened in the past five years, up from 56 per cent who
thought that way in 2001. According to the survey, 63 per cent of Canadians
rate the overall quality of the environment as poor or fair, an increase from
54 per cent who felt that way in 2001, the first time the survey was conducted
on this topic.
    The vast majority of Canadians feel the federal government is not doing
enough to reduce air pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. More than half of
all Canadians also strongly agree industry and government, through stricter
regulations, tax incentives and new programs, must do more to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. Yet Canadians are still optimistic with two-thirds
believing Canada's Kyoto targets on greenhouse gas reduction are still

    About the IBM HealthInsider Survey

    The IBM HealthInsider survey was conducted with 2,956 Canadians, with a
national margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points in 19 samples
out of 20.

For further information:

For further information: Visit; Media Contacts:
Leslie Plant, IBM Canada, (416) 478-9840,; Melody Gaukel,
Ketchum on behalf of IBM, (416) 544-4906,

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