It's Friday, and in my books, that means it's time to feel good. Let's set aside the doom-and-gloom stories for a moment and focus on some good news!
Good news from the province of Quebec today as a new law will go into effect at the end of the month which will tighten the restrictions on the pollution that 5,000 institutions, businesses, and industries are allowed to release into the air.
The overhaul of Quebec's 32-year-old air quality law is expected to reduce smog and acid rain when regulations are made stricter and brand new standards are created. That includes controlling the release of 80 new substances that are linked to serious health problems - this is accomplished by requiring the affected companies to measure their pollution levels and report these to the provincial government. These new standards apply to the aluminum, steel, cement, and pulp and paper industries. Meanwhile, stricter regulations around the release of volatile organic compounds are relevant to paint manufacturers, printers, dry cleaners, and refineries.
The Quebec government wanted to update this legislation years ago but put it off until businesses had a chance to recover from the recession, considering the overhauled law will require them to invest in new pollution-reducing equipment. Despite such expenses, most companies are expected to comply within a year, and those that haven't by July 2013 will be fined up to $50,000.
This is great news for, well, everything that breathes. Air pollution impacts cardiovascular health, which is why those with heart problems are advised to stay indoors on smog days. Public health researchers estimate that over 1,500 deaths in Quebec are caused by poor air quality every year. These are preventable deaths, and I'm relieved that steps are being taken to improve this horrible statistic. If only we could convince other governments to follow suit, especially in those provinces and states with a greater density of polluting industries!
Photo used under Creative Commons from Uwe Hermann (flickr).