Ontario's doctors: What you need to know about smog

    TORONTO, May 21 /CNW/ -

    How does smog impact health?

    -   Smog affects patients with a range of cardiac and respiratory health
    -   Smog increases the number of people affected by asthma, it increases
        the number of asthma attacks and makes them worse.
    -   Smog can cause relatively minor irritation of the eyes and throat.
    -   People with cardiac conditions such as heart failure and arterial
        sclerosis, or respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema and
        chronic bronchitis are more vulnerable to smog.

    Smog also has an impact on the health care system with increased visits to
doctor's offices and emergency departments, as well as hospital admissions.

    OMA Smog-Wise health tips

    1.  If you are aware of health conditions that make you, or those in your
        care, especially vulnerable to smog, it is important to educate
        yourself about how to reduce exposure;
    2.  Air quality indexes should be used as indicators of health risk, but
        everyone's health response is different. Do not assume that Low Risk
        or Good Air Quality forecasts mean that it is safe for all;
    3.  Take a reasonable, but precautionary approach to reducing your
        exposure and protecting yourself from smog, including limiting
        exertion on smoggy days;
    4.  If you are concerned about smog's impact on a pre-existing health
        condition (e.g., asthma, heart disease) or have other health
        concerns, talk to your physician.

    Smog Myths and Medical Facts

    Smog Myth: If it's smoggy, all sporting events and outdoor activities
should be cancelled.

    Medical Fact - In most cases the benefits of physical activity outweigh
the dangers of smog for healthy adults and children alike. Use your common
sense, monitor your activities and those of your family. Reduce your exertion,
schedule rest breaks and stay hydrated, but pay special attention to those
with pre-existing health conditions. Toning down outdoor activities may be
appropriate in the smog, eliminating them altogether is seldom necessary.

    Smog Myth: If I'm healthy, I'm safe because smog only affects asthmatics.

    Medical Fact - Smog affects everyone, however, children, seniors, people
with pre-existing lung or heart conditions and people who work and exercise
outdoors are more vulnerable. Although smog makes asthmatics and others with
respiratory conditions ill every year, smog-related deaths are more often the
result of cardiac causes than respiratory ones. This is of particular concern
because many people with heart problems are often unaware of their condition.

    Smog Myth: Air conditioners can contribute to pollution, so everyone
should turn theirs off.

    Medical Fact - Although air conditioners can contribute to smog, they are
also an important defence against the combined effects of heat, allergens and
pollution. If you have a known cardiac or respiratory condition, or are
suffering the effects of dirty air, getting into a cool, clean environment is

    The Ontario Medical Association launched the OMA Smog-Wise Information
Program in 2003 and continues to update this advice to its patients on how to
protect themselves from smog's ill effects. What follows are excerpts from the
longer Smog-Wise documents with can be found on the OMA website at

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview, please contact OMA
Media Relations at (416) 340-2862 or 1-800-268-7215 ext. 2862

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