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Ontario's air cleaner than it was 10 years ago, province says

Last Updated Mar 9, 2016 at 4:08 pm EST

The CN tower is framed by the smoke stacks at the Portlands Energy Centre in Toronto. PHOTO: THE CANADIAN PRESS

Take a deep breath, Ontario.

According to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the province’s air is cleaner than it was 10 years ago.

That’s right – despite an influx of 2-million new people, almost 5-million more cars and an increase in businesses and industries required to service all of them, Ontario’s air is cleaner today than it was in 2005.

And not just a little bit, either.

According to the 2014 Air Quality Report released by the government Wednesday, carbon monoxide levels are down 42 per cent since 2005, nitrogen dioxide levels are down 42 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels have dropped 49 per cent and fine particulate matter levels are down 31 per cent.

Of course, there are a number of reasons for the overall improvement of our air.

Phasing out coal-fired generating stations has probably had the largest impact on clean air, as coal plants are Canada’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

Emissions controls at smelters, emissions trading regulations and the Drive Clean emissions testing program are also tabbed as key initiatives that have resulted in cleaner air.

We can see how much Ontario’s air has improved just in the number of smog days the province has had over the past few years.

Since 2012, the province has had 32 smog days. Between 2005 and 2007, the province had 109.

The province has been releasing the Air Quality report for 44 years, examining 10-year trends. The report summarizes province-wide trends for key airborne pollutants affecting Toronto’s air quality.