Health effects of living near major point source emitters in NB | UNB

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Health effects of living near major point source emitters in NB

Category(s): Health
Status: Active
Principal: Sandra Magalhaes
Project Number: P0047
Year Approved: 2021

Project Description

Previous epidemiologic studies have demonstrated the adverse effects of point source pollution on health, including hospital admissions for cardiorespiratory conditions, increased risks of cancer, and mortality. To our knowledge, no such studies have been conducted in New Brunswick (NB). The purpose of this project is to evaluate whether living within relatively close proximity to select point source emitters (e.g., large quarries, smelters, pulp and paper mills, refineries, or other industrial facilities) in NB is associated with adverse health outcomes.It is important to note that different types of industrial activity produces different forms and levels of emissions, with potentially different impacts on health. A study using rates of emissions reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI), and transportation and residential heating emissions determined that residents of Quebec and NB are at higher risk of exposure to industrial emissions compared to those in other regions of Canada. Compared to industrial emissions from cement factories, refineries and petrochemical industries, quarries have significantly higher levels of particulate emissions. The health impacts on quarry workers has been studied in a few countries in Africa. Although these studies showed that chronic exposure to quarry dust increased risk of pulmonary problems in quarry workers, there have been very few studies on the impacts of residentsliving near quarries. Similarly, Canada continues to be the largest exporter of pulp and newsprint. Hazardous air emissions from pulp mills are typically classed under particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen and sulphur oxides, metals, and reduced sulphur compounds. The impact of these emissions on human health depends on emission amounts, exposure length, and susceptibility of those who are impacted. Health effects have typically included acute and chronic respiratory disease, cancer mortality, hospital admissions, and a variety of annoyance symptoms like headaches, nausea, and eye and throat irritation. The association between living near an industrial site and mental health has not been well-established since there have been very few studies on this topic. A US study linked individual-level survey data with the US Census and the Toxic Release Inventory and observed that residential proximity to industrial activity had a negative impact on mental health. There have been no such studies in the Canadian context. The overarching objective of this study is to evaluate whether living near point source emitters in the province is associated with adverse health outcomes, with consideration of a range of different types of industrial activity.