Protect your family from the increasing risk of asthma triggers.  

Research has shown that our health, and our children’s health, is being directly and seriously impacted by our changing climate.

  • Air pollution, dust, forest fire smoke and pollen are key triggers for asthma attacks.3
  • Every year, over 7,000 people in Ontario die from air pollution.4
  • Climate change means longer, drier and warmer summers, increasing air pollution risks from forest fires, dust storms, pollen and smog-forming chemical reactions.5

Untreated, asthma can cause hospitalization – or worse.

We developed this campaign to give parents information and tools to protect themselves and their families. And we need your help.

Together, we can Make It Better.

Learn more about the steps you can take to protect your family, common asthma triggers and how climate change impacts air quality.

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Personal Health

Steps you can take to protect your family. 

Learn more
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Common Asthma Triggers

Learning the difference can help reduce symptoms. 

Learn more
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Air Quality

How climate change impacts the air we breathe. 

Learn more

1 Canadian Institute for Health Information (2018). Asthma hospital stays by children and youth. Retrieved from: https://www.cihi.ca/en/asthma-hospital-stays-by-children-and-youth

2 Asthma.ca (n.d.) Infants and Children: Asthma in infants and children. Retrieved from:  https://www.asthma.ca/get-help/asthma-3/control/infants-and-children/

3 Asthma Society of Canada. (n.d.) Common Asthma Triggers. Retrieved from: https://asthma.ca/get-help/asthma-3/triggers-3/common-asthma-triggers/

4 Government of Canada. (2018). Health Impacts of Air Pollution in Canada – An estimate of premature mortalities. Retrieved from: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2018/sc-hc/H144-51-2017-eng.pdf 

5 Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. (April 2019). Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals: Module 3 – Climate Change Health Impacts across Canada. Retrieved from https://cape.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Module-3-ready-to-upload-SOLO-April-5-2019.pdf

Personal Health

Steps you can take to protect your family.

You can lower your exposure to air pollution when you:

  • Avoid exercise when outdoor air quality is poor or consider exercising indoors—because active people take in more air when they are active they may inhale more pollutants from the air.
  • Avoid highly polluted areas where possible—try to minimize exposure to areas with higher air pollution, such as high-traffic areas.
  • Be aware of potential hazards in your indoor environment and try to reduce exposures.
  • Consider using HEPA filters to remove particles from indoor air. For example, one community affected by forest fires lowered indoor smoke pollution by 65% using HEPA filters.
  • Talk to your family doctor or health care professional if you have concerns about your health or health of a family member.

You can monitor outdoor air quality:

  • The Air Quality Health Index from Health Canada and Environment Canada has real-time air quality ratings and forecasts. It gives health messages based on air quality monitoring. It is available in cities across Canada where air quality monitors are found.
  • People can use current Air Quality Health Index readings and forecasts to plan their outdoor activities for periods when health risks are lower. 

Source: Health Canada

Extra Tip

Outdoor exercise can be very beneficial for your health and some forms of outdoor exercise, like bike riding and other forms of active transportation,6 are good for the environment too. However, when the air quality is poor, extra caution should be taken by moving exercise indoors and looking for other environmentally-friendly modes of transportation that don’t contribute to even more air pollution. Examples include taking public transit, car-sharing/car pooling, or telecommuting when possible. 

6  Active transportation [Internet]. Canada.ca. 2014 [cited 17 July 2019]. Available from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/being-active/active-transportation.html

Common Asthma Triggers

Learning the difference can help reduce symptoms. 

Triggers often bring on asthma attacks. A trigger is any thing or condition that causes inflammation in the airways, which then leads to asthma symptoms.

Your personal triggers can be very different from those of another person with asthma. But in every case, it’s important to avoid your triggers in order to keep airway inflammation to a minimum and reduce the symptoms.

About inflammatory triggers 
Inflammatory (allergic) triggers can cause inflammation of the lungs’ airways or tightening of the airways’ muscles. Inflammatory triggers include:

  • Dust mites
  • Animals
  • Cockroaches
  • Moulds
  • Pollens
  • Viral infections
  • Certain air pollutants

About symptom triggers
Symptom (non-allergic) triggers generally do not cause swelling, but they can provoke “twitchy” airways, especially if they’re already inflamed. Symptom triggers include:

  • Smoke
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Chemical fumes and other strong-smelling substances like perfumes
  • Certain food additives like sulfites
  • Certain air pollutants
  • Intense emotions

Smoke: Exposure to smoke of any kind, whether the source is tobacco, marijuana, forest fires or campfires, can be harmful.

Copied with permission from: Asthma Canada

Air Quality

How climate change impacts the air we breathe. 

It is now well-established by researchers that climate change could result in a deterioration of several aspects of air quality, including:

  • An increase in air pollution levels—pollutants such as ozone and particles of different sizes (particulate matter, or PM).
  • More frequent or severe air pollution and heat episodes—which together, have an even greater impact. 
  • Increased emissions from the natural environment—such as from fires and dust.
  • An increase in aeroallergen levels—substances in the air, like pollen, that can cause allergic reactions. 

Who is at risk

Air quality is most likely to cause health problems in vulnerable groups, such as:

  • Older adults;
  • Children;
  • Pregnant women;
  • People with chronic diseases (e.g. Asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes);
  • People of lower socio-economic status—living conditions may expose them to higher levels of pollution and they may not be able to avoid exposure during extreme heat/pollution episodes.

Copied with permission from: Health Canada