Oh no Ozone, Obituary Omen

Okay, so I like alliteration.

That established, it’s time to get down to what I don’t like: impacts to my health I have no control over. I’m not talking about cancer, or other somewhat unpredictable ailments. I’m talking about direct environmental impacts to my health.

If I eat that extra doughnut, shame on me. There is no one else to blame for my trek towards obesity or diabetes. But sprinkle the air I breathe with toxins – that’s another story.

My latest post received a kind word from the fabulous folks at Skeptical Science. Mr. Bailey suggested I might be interested in a post related to health, climate change and ozone. He was half right… and he, as a climate change communicator, probably felt a little guilty pointing me to it (didn’t you Daniel?). After all, when you do this for a living, you’re not exactly looking for more bad news…

But there it was. A startling realization. An additional prompt for action. A cause to blog about. A reason to tell my friends and family, with just a little more urgency: please, do what you can to help stop fossil fuel emissions and climate change and help me spread the word.

Tailpipe

Ew. Get that away from me.

I’m sure this fact was buried in my university education somewhere, as it didn’t feel entirely new to me: ozone is toxic and a warmer planet + industrial/fossil fuel emissions pretty much guarantees more of it. In quantities that could make your lungs fail.

Don’t trust the climate geeks to talk about health impacts? Environment Canada (purveyor of air quality) makes it pretty clear  that NO amount of ground level O3 (ozone) is good, stating:

  • There is no safe level for PM2.5 and O3 that does not pose risks to human health.
  • Negative health effects increase as the concentrations of pollutants in the air increases. Even modest increases in concentration (e.g. PM2.5 and O3) can cause small but measurable increases in emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and premature death.

(What’s the difference between “ground level ozone” and the “ozone layer” you ask?)

Recently, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment sent a public letter to the Honourable Kevin Falcon (Minister of Finance), requesting he maintain and expand the carbon tax. They did so because we can’t do without climate change policy, and a solid price on carbon is an essential tool in the fight.

They didn’t mention ozone at all. I think they lumped it in with “health impacts” generally. And I wonder if that was a lost opportunity? Seriously. People are going to be pissed when they realize governments are okay with that risk!

That, or they are getting ready to tax clean air tank suppliers. Just kidding. Kind of.

Anyway, not to keep you up at night (unless you’d like to join me?), but this is worth a little consideration. I mean, if there is a fly in your salad, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you? And if there was arsenic?

Oh, and I didn’t get to the other health impacts in the Skeptical Science article… small doses, I suppose 🙂

To a new world waiting,

HB

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3 Responses

  1. Hi, Heather! We mentioned your blog in our most recent Weekly Digest that just went live, here:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/2012-SkS-Weekly-Digest_34.html

    Keep up the good work!

    • Cool! Thanks Daniel 🙂 If I write something relevant/in scope for SkS, would you like me to send a note your way? I could post the link on FB as well (assuming you are keen to be made aware of more content).

      Most of my writing is about making connections between climate impacts and daily living and opportunities to take action. It’s also a space for me to sound off and experiment with different communication techniques (analogies, storytelling, etc.) with the hope that readers will provide feedback on what works and what is nonsense.

      Also, I’m not from the Skagit Valley – that is the location of the image, though, I do drift there at times as I day dream 🙂 I’m from Victoria – the capital city of British Columbia.

      Thanks again!

  2. Sure, Heather. We’re always interested in discussing the human impacts of climate change; the cognitive scientists working with us tell us that that is the best way to make CC relevant to the average person.

    You can either send me a message through FB or leave a message on any of the threads at Skeptical Science. Or just post a synopsis on our FB page with a direct link to your articles.
    http://www.facebook.com/daniel.bailey.142

    Best,

    Dan

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