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62% of Canadians with asthma suffer when air quality poor: Lung Association survey

May 6, 2008

Survey also finds that link between air pollution and asthma is under-appreciated

(Ottawa) -- A new survey released today by The Lung Association shows that more than half of Canadians with asthma notice that their breathing gets worse on smoggy days, yet few know the range of steps they can take to protect their breathing.

Additionally, the survey found that a surprising 62 per cent of Canadians with asthma say their asthma "acts up" on days when air quality is poor.

Results also show that more than half of all Canadians who have asthma know to stay indoors on smoggy days. However, in contrast, very few Canadians with asthma know other strategies to protect their lung health on poor air quality days. Only 29 per cent know to take their asthma medication, and fewer know to avoid strenuous exercise outdoors (6%) or staying away from high traffic areas, where pollution tends to be worse (1%).

"The link between air pollution and asthma is often under-appreciated," says Dr. Menn Biagtan of the B.C. Lung Association. "Short-term exposure to ozone – the main component of smog – can exacerbate lung conditions, causing illness, and hospitalization. Chronic exposure to ozone can cause pre-mature deaths in people with pre-existing lung and heart conditions."

Smog can cause breathing problems in anyone, even people without a lung condition. Certain people, such as those with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as children and the elderly, are more sensitive to smog's effects.

"People with asthma may notice that their breathing gets worse after a few minutes outside in the smog. But smog can also trigger symptoms later on, even the next day. So some people with asthma may not realize that their symptoms were triggered by exposure to smog" says Dr. Biagtan.

The survey also revealed that almost four in ten (38%) Canadian households include at least one individual who has asthma.

This survey was conducted by Environics Research, on behalf of The Lung Association. The survey was conducted between March 13 and April 7, 2008 and is based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of 2,026 Canadians (18 years and over). The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.2 percent, in 19 out of 20 samples.

Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada's oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.


To arrange an interview, media representatives may contact:

Cameron Bishop
Director of Government Affairs and Media Relations
The Lung Association
613-569-6411, ext. 223

For more information contact:
Cameron Bishop
Director of Government Affairs and Media Relations
The Canadian Lung Association
Phone: 613-569-6411, ext. 223

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