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Lung Association calls on party leaders to talk about environment and lung Health

September 28, 2008

(Ottawa) – The Lung Association today called on federal political parties to spend this week of the election campaign debating the health effects of dirty air.

"Dirty air and rising rates of lung disease in Canada are major problems that must be dealt with," said Kenneth Maybee, Chair of Environmental Issues for The Lung Association, "This week, we are hoping to see all federal political parties turn their focus to a serious debate about how we can improve the lung health of Canadians by cleaning up the air they breathe".

The Association highlighted a recent study by the Canadian Medical Association which found that:

* In 2008, 21,000 Canadians will die from the effects of air pollution, a figure projected to rise to 710,000 by 2031;
* Respiratory illness accounted for nearly 40% of hospital admissions associated with exposure to air pollution;
* Respiratory diseases account for approximately 40% of the 92,000 emergency department visits in 2008 linked to air pollution – a figure projected to rise to 152,000 by 2031;
* Over 20 million minor illnesses will be attributed to air pollution in 2008 and that number will climb to over 26 million by 2031.

In addition to these statistics, findings released in May 2008 by The Lung Association that found that 62 per cent of Canadians with asthma say their asthma "acts up" on days when air quality is poor.

The Lung Association urged party leaders to outline in clear terms the benefits of their approach to cleaning up the air Canadians breathe. The Association also urged the leaders to publicly commit to funding Canada´s national action plan on lung health – the National Lung Health Framework.

The National Lung Health Framework is the first health strategy of its kind in the world that fuses environment and health together. It is a strategy that, if implemented and funded by Canada´s next government, will improve the air Canadians breathe while making the treatment and management of lung disease a top priority across the country.

If Canada´s next government funds the Lung Health Framework, Canadians will see fewer hospitalizations, lower incidence of lung disease, more respirologists and allied health professionals in their communities and fewer smog days.

With 15 days left in the campaign, there is still time for the major political parties to commit to a long-term strategy that will clean up the air Canadians breathe and that will make Canada a world leader in the fight against lung disease.

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.

For more information contact:
Cameron Bishop
Phone: 613-569-6411

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