Mainland Leads in Pollution
While all Canadians are driving more,
using more energy, pumping greater amounts of greenhouse gases into the
environment, and dumping more garbage into landfills than ever
before, BC appears to be doing a poorer job of protecting the
environment than the rest of the country.
Those are the findings of Environment Canada’s Environmental
Signals Headline Indicators 2003. Furthermore, it says BC’s lower
mainland is leading the nation in worsening pollution levels, with the
highest increase in concentrations of hazardous PM2.5 (fine particulate
matter) air pollutants of any major city in Canada.
PM2.5 has actually decreased in Toronto and Edmonton, according to the report.
Medical experts and health advocates say fine particulate matter in
emissions, such as diesel exhaust, tends to lodge deeply in the
lungs and have been related to cancers and other breathing ailments.
The report also say while almost 78 per cent of Canadians outside of BC
live in municipalities with secondary or tertiary sewage treatment,
fully 80 per cent of British Columbians still have only primary sewage
treatment. In Vancouver, more than 700 millions
litres of nearly raw sewage and industrial effluent is dumped into
local waters every day. Moreover, in BC five percent of people still
have no form of sewage treatment.
“This report shows we still have a long
way to go to clean up our environment,” said SPEC coordinator Ivan
Bulic. “Here in Southern British Columbia we appear to be actually
going backward when it comes to air pollution and sewage treatment.”
Environmental Signals also notes that greenhouse
gas emissions across Canada have increased 20 percent
since 1990 and that every Canadian now dumps 1000 kgs of solid waste
every year. This is despite the federal government’s commitment to
reducing greenhouse gases as part of its commitment to the Kyoto
There is also an alarming upward trend in
the number of toxic materials such as lead and cadmium that are finding
there way into the environment.