Study: Environmental burden of disease in Canada

The environmental burden of disease in Canada: Respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and congenital affliction

A new study by David Boyd, a research associate with UVic’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, working with Stephen J. Genuis, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, shows that "Exposure to environmental hazards contributes to many chronic diseases, yet the magnitude of their contribution to the total disease burden in Canada is not well understood."

This study was covered in the November issue of The Ring, a UVic community paper.

The abstract of the study can be found here.

The story in The Ring also makes reference to another report by Boyd, found through the David Suzuki Foundation website. Entitled, 'Prescription for a Healthy Canada', the study covers the same subject matter. Find it here.

When I read that "Each year, millions of Canadians become ill or disabled after being exposed to environmental contaminants linked to asthma, gastrointestinal illness, poisonings, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, developmental disorders, birth defects, and reproductive problems", or when I hear that, "Unlike the U.S., Australia, and the European Union, Canada lacks both a national program to monitor children’s exposures to environmental contaminants, and a national system to track diseases and deaths caused by environmental contaminants", I don't tend to feel very proud of my government. I love Canada, and I'd expect that my government would do it's best to protect my fellow Canadians from unneeded poisoning.

Boyd's study shows that pollution is killing up to 25,000 Canadians each year and costing the nation’s health care system up to $9.1 billion and 1.5 billion hospital days annually. It also estimates that environmental pollutants in Canada cause as many as 24,000 new cases of cancer and 2,500 low birth-weight babies every year.

Last year I watched a CBC Marketplace program entitled 'Chasing The Cancer Answer'. The video is available here. That story by Wendy Mesley covered much of the same subject matter.

We know that rising cancer rates are due to increasing environmental pollutants, and we can see that it's the environment that sustains us, so why wouldn't our government do something about this? My guess is that many Canadians don't know the seriousness of this problem, so they don't pressure the government to act. Why would the government fix the situation if it's 'easier' to leave it the way it is?

The responsibility sits on our shoulders to make them act. If a politician isn't acting on the problems, throw them out. If another political party is promoting policies that will improve our health, employ sustainable ecological practices and demonstrate fiscal responsibility, then let's vote for that party.

You guessed it; I'm talking about the Green Party.


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