Clean Air for Children

London Chapter of Council of Canadians is launching a campaign to urge Londoners to idle less. Toronto's medical officer has released a report stating a 30% reduction in vehicle emissions could save 200 lives, one billion dollars a year in health care costs and 68,000 asthma attacks for children a year.

In Ontario, the number of smog days nearly quadrupled from 15 in 1995 to 53 in 2005. If nothing is done to clean the air, medical experts estimate that by 2026 the number of smog-related premature deaths in Ontario alone will hit 10,000 annually. The combined health care and lost productivity costs are expected to exceed $1 billion. Pollution is a particularly serious issue for London, Ontario, the city with the provinces second highest number of smog days after Toronto.  London has had 3 smog days already this year - all before the month of May.

Facts:

Children breathe 50 percent more air per pound than adults.

Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.

Children's asthma symptoms increase as a result of car exhaust.

Asthma is the most common chronic illness in children and the cause of most school absences.

Exposure to vehicle exhaust increases the risk of death from heart and lung disease and lung cancer. 

The council will be working with the City of London to look at bylaws and enforcement, however, Council President Cory Morningstar is encouraging Londoners to act now. "There is sufficient evidence on the damage idling causes. I urge Londoners to start living by this 1 minute maximum principle immediately and not wait for a bylaw change. Children are the most vulnerable in our society.  It is the responsibility of every adult citizen on our global planet to take every precaution to protect the health of our children and mitigate against climate change.  Just as all children must have the right to clean drinking water, all children must have the right to breathe clean air.

We urge all Londoners who are willing to make this commitment to sign this petition and support our policy lobbying efforts.

Other initiatives include a London Smog bylaw, Amendments to our current idling bylaw to reduce idling time to a max. of one minute (& in some cases zero such as railway crossings), and a moratorium on drive-thrus.

Although leadership from provincial and federal governments is crucial in negotiating international agreements, setting frameworks and standards and for providing fiscal and financial incentives, when it comes to practical action on the ground, city leadership must take centre stage.  Mayors and elected officials have responsibilities in areas key to taking swift action to reduce emissions, and can show leadership in taking decisive and radical action. It is at city level that innovation and progress on pollution and thus climate change is most likely to be achieved.

To take care of our world is a work that is incumbent on all of us, so that thus our children are developed in a healthful environment.



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