Ep 186 Transcript – Dr Michael Brauer interview

Note: This transcript was generated using an automated system. We’ve done our best to clean up some of the errors but forgive any we’ve missed.

Scott: Joining me today is Professor Michael Brauer from the UBC School of Public Health. Welcome, Professor Brauer.

Dr Brauer: Thanks for having me.

Scott: Oh, you’re welcome. So I wanted to bring you on today to discuss air pollution and its public health impacts and what we know about it and how it interacts with the coronavirus. But before we get into that, could you just give our listeners a brief introduction of yourself and the research you do?

Dr Brauer: Yeah. So my name is Michael Brauer. I’m a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia and I study the links between our environment and pollution in the environment specifically, and how it affects health, especially health of a population. So, I’m not really studying what happens to an individual but how changes in our environment, whether it’s more or less polluted, how that affects sort of large populations.

And in this case, we’re talking today about the health impacts of air pollution. Air pollution is the most important impact or pollutant in the environment in terms of the impacts on human health.

Scott: Okay. Well, let’s jump right in then. So what are kind of the main impacts of air pollution on human health?

Dr Brauer: So air pollution affects human health in a number of ways. But really to get down to the ultimate impacts, we know that around the world every year we estimate that somewhere around 4 million deaths can be attributed to air pollution. So these are deaths from lung disease, chronic lung disease, especially, as well as heart disease.

And we’re seeing actually even other kinds of diseases that one might not ordinarily think of being affected by something that you breathe also being impacted by air pollution. Now, we can’t ever decide if any particular death is an air pollution death or not an air pollution death, so we look at it as a risk factor that contributes to worsening of diseases.

So these numbers are really statistical estimates but they’ve been backed by now hundreds of studies done everywhere around the world. So they’re sort of our understanding of the impacts of air pollution. And what’s happening is that when we breathe in this pollution, obviously it does affect our lungs.

And one of the ways that it affects us is that our body actually tries to fight this as though it were something like a virus or bacterial infection. And because air pollution isn’t something that our body has an immune system that’s been designed to fight, our body keeps trying to fight it.

And then it’s actually this response of our body that then starts to affect other organ systems. So that’s why with something like air pollution, we see effects on the heart, we see effects on the kidneys, we see effects, for example, on people with type two diabetes. And again, it’s just this response that sort of keeps going on because we can’t actually fight the air pollution that we we continue to breathe.

Scott: Right. And I gather there’s also been impacts on people’s mental faculties. I think there was a study a little while ago about schools that were downwind of major roadways and highways having lower test scores.

Dr Brauer: Yeah, we’re starting to see impacts even beyond the heart and the lung. So we see things, for example, we’ve done some recent work looking at dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and we start to see links there. Perhaps also the other kinds of effects on cognitive development in children.

There have been some studies suggesting that another impact that we have quite a lot of information on is impacts on pregnancies. So we actually see lower birth weight babies in areas of higher air pollution. We see more prematurely born babies in areas of higher air pollution.

So it seems as though the more we look at this, there’s really not many organ systems, not many parts of the body that can’t somehow be affected by air pollution. And that’s sort of consistent with this idea that basically air pollution is producing this chronic response. It’s chronic inflammation, which really then affects the whole body. And that’s what gives these quite dramatic impacts and some of these very large numbers. Also just the fact that heart and lung disease are our major killers in most parts of the world. So if air pollution has any contribution to those, as we know it does, yeah, we get these quite large numbers.

I should add, just in Canada specifically, Health Canada estimates every year about 14,000 deaths can be attributed to air pollution. And that’s really quite remarkable given that Canada is a country with some of the cleanest air in the world. So we have levels that are a 10th or lower than levels seen in some of the more highly polluted countries in the world.

But again, even in Canada, we see some 14,000 deaths every year. Again, in British Columbia estimates of around 1500 deaths every year, just in British Columbia.

Scott: All right. That sounds quite impactful. There’s also going to be, because of the health effects, a bunch of economic impacts. Do we have a rough idea of what air pollution costs society in general?

Dr Brauer: Yeah. So we actually did a report with the World Bank several years ago looking at it from a global perspective and the numbers are absolutely astounding: $5 trillion every year in terms of economic impacts. This is due both to the health impacts, so essentially shortening of lives or lowering of people’s ability to have actually economically productive lives, but also in addition the costs due to lost productivity of people who are still alive and working. So we have a number of studies showing that, for example, agricultural workers or manufacturing workers who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution, they’re actually less efficient and less productive. So yeah, $5 trillion globally.

And then the estimates in Canada are again, every year, $114 billion, mostly due to the health impacts. And in BC, somewhere around $11 billion every year are the economic impacts due to air pollution.

Scott: I’m actually surprised to hear just how big that is. So it sounds like it’s a situation where there’s really significant impacts and it makes a lot of sense to try and combat this just because, not only for general health reasons but as a society, it’s costing us a lot. And we’ll get into some of the policy recommendations on that towards the end. But is that generally correct?

Dr Brauer: Yeah. And I guess the other side of this is that if we actually reduce air pollution, unlike many other things that we can change in terms of things that have economic impacts or have health impacts, if we actually reduce air pollution, everybody gets this benefit. So we actually get this benefit sort of across a society.

We don’t have to actually worry about, you know, are we targeting some program, let’s say, to some segment of the population. These impacts are felt across the entire society. And so by reducing air pollution, by a regulation or by a technology change, we kind of immediately get that benefit.

So that’s sort of the positive side of air pollution; the fact that everybody can actually get this benefit. We don’t have to worry about actually how to roll out or how to actually target an improvement to the people that need it most.

Scott: Right. Clean air really is a public good here in more ways than one. Before we move on to, COVID-19 and air pollution, is there any particular source of air pollution that are more harmful than others? What are the ones that are really causing a lot of problems?

Dr Brauer: In terms of sources in general, the sources that are produced by combustion, so whenever we’re burning something, are more harmful than other sources of pollution. Now that that is not going to surprise most people.

But it is important to recognize that there are sources, such as dust storms, and even actually sea spray. So actually just the wave action produces these small particles. We have lightning that actually leads to air pollution. So we do have a number of sort of natural sources or things like dust storms, which you could consider natural or also have a human influence on them. Those are harmful.

So we know, for example, in the interior of BC, every spring after the snow is melted we’ve laid down, for example, a lot of traction material onto roads and when the snow melts and things dry up, we get some winds in the spring time. We get these big dust events and we actually know that that is quite harmful.

But anytime we’re getting pollution from burning, whether that’s a fireplace, whether that’s, you know, burning coal in a power plant, whether that’s a wildfire, that seems to be the more harmful types of pollution.

Scott: A lot of the literature and media coverage of air pollution talks about 2.5…

Dr Brauer: right, PM 2.5. These are these small particles and they’re smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. So just to put that in perspective, a human hair has the diameter of about a hundred micrometers in diameter. So these are much, much smaller than just the diameter of a human hair. We can’t see these particles.

There are millions of them in the air. We actually, each one of us, breathes in and out millions of these particles every day. They can remain suspended in the air for even up to several weeks. So for example, if we have large wildfires, whether it’s in British Columbia or Northern Canada, there’s evidence that that smoke, and actually these small particles is what’s in that smoke, can affect air quality and even affect air in places as far away as the Southern US or even the Eastern US. So those particles are our greatest concern from a health perspective and for a number of reasons. One is, as I just mentioned, that they remain in the air for such a long period of time. They’re also very small, meaning that they basically can avoid some of our lungs’ defence mechanisms and reach down into the very, very sensitive parts of our airways and actually cause inflammation in very sensitive parts of our lungs.

Scott: Well, let’s move on to the COVID-19 pandemic and how air pollution interacts with that. The SARS-cov-2 virus, which is the cause of the COVID-19 disease, is primarily a respiratory virus. It attacks the lungs and the rest of the respiratory system. And acknowledging here that the science is very much rapidly developing, what do we know about how exposure to air pollution can increase risks from COVID-19?

Dr Brauer: Right. So air pollution and respiratory infections is a link that we’ve actually known about for quite some time. So respiratory infections, like influenza that we see every year, even things like middle ear infections, so ear aches that are very common in young children, those actually start out as respiratory infections.

And we know that if you have one of these infections, so air pollution is not causing the infection, but if you have one of these infections and then you’re also exposed to high levels of air pollution, it makes it more difficult for your body’s defence system, your immune system, to actually fight the infection so that infection becomes more severe.

So the ear infection is a really good example. So that starts out as what we call an upper respiratory infection and can progress to affect the ears in a number of ways. But one way is the fact that air pollution retards your body’s ability to fight that infection. So now when you have this infection, it now progress this to other parts of your body.

And we started to see some evidence of the same kind of interactions with COVID-19, also from the earlier SARS outbreak which is quite a similar virus. There was some evidence that on days of higher air pollution, people had double the risk of dying compared to SARS, compared to days of lower air pollution. And there was a recent preliminary results coming out of a analysis for COVID-19 from the US that suggested that the areas of the US that have higher levels of air pollution, people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than in places that had lower levels of air pollution.

So all of that’s quite consistent. Now again, the science is evolving and it’s very early days to really be conclusive about this. But it is very consistent with what we know about how air pollution interacts with respiratory infections in general. And again, the idea is that it makes those infections more severe.

This is the whole idea behind us staying home, all of the lockdowns for example. So there’s two issues here. One is that, that people are less likely to get infected, but also that the people who get infected, we want to keep those infections so people aren’t impacting our health care system.

And air pollution is something that could take somebody who’s already affected, make that infection more severe so that they actually do need to seek medical attention and have that impact on the healthcare system. So that’s why it’s actually a really important factor here.

Scott: Has the desire to keep air pollution down to minimize those impacts been part of the explicit policy making around the lockdown or is this just kind of a beneficial side effect?

Dr Brauer: So locally it has been and I think actually in BC we were sort of one of the first places in the world to actually make this link and actually get it into policy. And this resulted from just what’s happening actually at this time of the year. So in many, many parts of the world springtime actually is a period of quite good air quality.

In BC, we have a number of situations. Where, in some parts of the province, actually it’s a period of rather poor quality. So quite early on in the pandemic, we were hearing from our air quality agencies, Ministry of Environment as well as the local air shed planning groups that, for example, they were seeing, as is typical this time of year, a lot of slash burning, some burning of agricultural debris or forestry debris. And we’re concerned about the impacts again, because we’re in the midst of a pandemic which affects the respiratory system. So quite early on, we actually were able in BC to implement a restrictions on open burning.

And I believe now there’s now a complete ban on open burning throughout the entire province. And we’re also gearing up towards thinking about wildfire season here, and we’ve already had a few fires in BC, fires also in Alberta. And that’s really our most important air quality issue in this part of the country.

So that’s a great concern to others. There’s not a whole lot we can do about controlling wildfires once they exist. But we really want to be extremely vigilant this year about starting fires if they’re going to be human caused. So thinking about, for example continuing bans on campfires or extending those, for example, throughout the whole season, is something that has been discussed and I believe it’s being implemented as well.

Scott: Right. And they closed a bunch of provincial parks over the Easter weekend. Is that something that you expect the policymakers will likely continue on through the summer, both to prevent transmission of disease and to minimize any chance to have camper started fires?

Dr Brauer: I think the park closures are more from just physical distancing as well as sort of impacts on employees and things like that. But continue to sort of raise the issue of perhaps this is a summer when we just shouldn’t allow, if people are camping and using parks, we just shouldn’t allow fires in them, as we always tend to get to a point in the summer where we do ban fires, throughout most of the province, and maybe this is the summer when we just do that throughout the entire season just because of this added risk here.

Scott: I’ve seen some reports that suggest that the lockdown in China is actually going to have a bigger overall impact on health there because of the reduced deaths from air pollution than just stopping the virus would. Based on what we know now, what are going to be the impacts of shutting down so much human activity? And, do we have Canada specific projections on that?

Dr Brauer: So I’m not aware of any Canada-specific projections on that. And, as I mentioned earlier, Canada is, in terms of air quality, it is extremely clean. Having said that, we do know that we still see substantial impacts of air quality even at the lower levels that we see in Canada on human health.

And, of course, we’d never want to trade pandemic deaths for air pollution related deaths. But just given the numbers that we estimate, certainly if we’re talking 4 million deaths per year, and we decrease air quality even over one to two months, three months, and in some places this is down by 50%, the numbers will be more than the impacts of the pandemic itself.

But I don’t really think that’s, you know, that’s not really the appropriate way to look at this. I think these are both issues, and it is a reminder that even while we’re in the midst of a pandemic, which is horrible and tragic, we do have these sort of ongoing issues, which we may get slight reprieves from them, but they’ve been going on for years and we’ll continue to go on for years and do have really huge impacts on the health of populations, both in Canada, but also elsewhere around the world.

Probably the more important question is: what happens when we start to emerge from the current situation where we really got shutdowns of major sectors of the economy? Do we go right back to the way it was before, and there’s some evidence that even though China saw these improvements of air quality as they started ramp up their economy things are going back to similar to how they were before, or do we actually take this as an opportunity to, the United nations has been using the phrase, build back better?

Do we actually use this as an opportunity to take action on some of these longer standing issues? if we’re going to be thinking about having to restructure our economy just because of the economic impacts, but also considering, for example, virus transmission, can we do this in a way where we also lessen the impacts on the environment?

And then another aspect of that, is it’s been quite interesting that in many parts of the world people have now seen visually seen what clean air looks like. It’s very easy to get used to sort of subpar air quality. You may not really notice it if that’s the way it’s been your whole life.

But now all of a sudden you see these amazing blue skies that many parts of the world and even even parts of Canada may not be used to seeing. And we’ve seen some evidence from both anecdotally, but also from some small surveys that people really like this and they really appreciate it.

So there’s an opportunity here to capitalize on this experience and try and actually deal with what has been a long standing issue.

Scott: Well, let’s dig into that a bit. After the pandemic draws to a close and the social distancing and physical distancing gets eased off. There’s also going to be a lot of economic and societal recovery that’s going to need to happen and we’ll likely to see a fairly large package from multiple levels of government be put out there to try and get society and the economy restarted. would you recommend we use that to minimize air pollution going forward?

Dr Brauer: So, yeah, in terms of air pollution, and I think we also need to think about the transition that we need to make to a net zero carbon economy is as well. we should be asking those questions about, you know, every dollar that we’re spending. can we spend that dollar in a way and making sure that this isn’t going to lead to air pollution. This isn’t going to lead to an increase in emissions related to climate change. and we certainly have the technologies, we have the solutions to actually let society function, and, let our economies function in a way that is much less damaging to the environment. so I think it’s really asking those questions, not just saying.

You know, here’s the money, spend it however you want. Get back to normal. so what might that mean? that would be prioritizing, you know, clean energy that would mean prioritizing. And it’s very complicated to think about how are we going to do this in a safe way, but let’s say prioritizing public transit.

As opposed to private vehicles, prioritizing, efficiencies in industrial processes that reduce their energy needs or allow them to use alternative energy sources. lots of things like that are, you know, it’s going to be the devil in the details, but I think it’s really just actually having this sort of checklist and saying, you know any dollar we spend, it should not be also, it should not be having negative impacts on the environment. And then there’s also other things, that have for a long time been been sort of low hanging fruit. One of the interesting things, that I noticed in the first days. Of the, the sort of lockdown periods was that many people were staying home and, they would light up a fireplace, because, well, that’s what you do when you’re stuck at home.

And that’s really just for sort of ambiance. most people, especially in our metropolitan areas, in our inner cities in Canada, that’s not a primary heating source and that’s actually a huge source of air pollution, in our cities. So, for example, in Metro Vancouver, that’s probably the leading, source of these very, very small particles.

Scott: Really More than cars?

Dr Brauer: yeah, more than cars. And that’s because our cars today are so much cleaner. And I think where, you know, even 10 years ago, let alone 30 years ago, we’ve had huge improvements in the technology from our motor vehicles. So while they still are a source of air pollution, and there certainly, a very important source for emissions related to climate change, in contrast to something like a fireplace. a fireplace today is really no different than a fireplace was 500 years ago. So we really haven’t done much to improve that technology. And it’s also something that, you know, while it’s nice, we don’t really need it. So the idea that we’re sort of burning wood, creating this pollution in our major cities, I think it’s now it’s time to really think about, you know, should that be allowed, at all?

Obviously in a remote area, in a cabin, where you’re not in a densely populated area, that’s an individual choice to make. But in a city where one fireplace can affect hundreds of people, in the vicinity, perhaps now’s the time for you to think about those kinds of sources, which really there’s no, I would say no cost to basically not allowing that kind of pollution. And again, maybe taking this experience that where we just have this idea,, how good your quality can be, when we, change way of life as an example.

Scott: so I believe most new buildings can’t have fireplaces, but this would more be a policy of prohibiting their use in existing older buildings, correct?

Dr Brauer: Yeah, that’s correct. And, for a number of reasons, sort of newer buildings, sort of wood burning fireplace is just for the fire hazard,and actually, insurers often, won’t actually insure a building with a, with a wood burning fireplace, now in it.

So, this would be the tens of thousands of older homes and buildings that have, wood burning fireplaces and are used and then also, again, things like I mentioned earlier, like open burning, we have regulations about that, but perhaps they need, so this is open burning of agricultural waste or forestry debris. we do have regulations, but perhaps they could be tightened as well. Again, just thinking about the contribution that they make to poor air quality.

Scott: So what role do the different levels of government have with respect to improving air quality? We’ve already talked a bit about prohibiting burning within cities, but there’s also issues around where housing gets located, near major roadways, but also there’s provincial and federal roles. Can you go into the different responsibilities, the different levels of government, half with respect to air pollution problems?

Dr Brauer: Sure. In terms of responsibility, most of the responsibility is at the provincial level. in some cases, the province will delegate that to other agencies. So, for example, in Metro Vancouver, the province has delegated air quality to Metro Vancouver or what used to be called the Greater Vancouver Regional District.

And that’s sort of typical across most of the country that things are done at the provincial level. In BC, what tends to happen is the province will tend to set up air shed management groups which are a combination of basically provincial oversight, but working together with local stakeholders. So that would mean both local government, but also citizen groups and for example, the economic sectors that are important in a particular region.

Federal jurisdiction focuses on things like requirements for motor vehicles, so that we have a uniform standard across the country. we also do have federal air quality guidelines, but often the provinces will actually exceed those air quality standards. but then you’d also get into sort of interesting issues like federal lands that are located in area. So, for example, the port and port authorities, that’s federal land.

And those actually tend to have sources of air pollution. so those, you have to work together with the local authorities, even though they’re sort of under federal regulations. So it can become quite complex. But in general, most of the action is undertaken at the provincial level.

Scott: Right. And with respect to the port, a lot of the ships burn a bunker fuel, which is basically, the lowest rate of fuel possible. So they have a particularly outsize role in air pollution. Correct?

Dr Brauer: in North America, actually, for several years now, we’ve had fuel quality restrictions, in port and actually close to the coasts. certainly in the open seas, it’s absolutely correct that you can, you can still burn much lower quality fuel. and that has been a federal action.

And so actually there’s been quite a bit of improvement in the impact of that Marine sector close to populated areas. So in port as well as when they’re close to coastline. So, that’s been actually a source of progress in the last few years.

but ports are also a major destination, for example, for truck traffic. it’s not just the Marine vessels themselves, but also all of that activity that goes on at port land. Lots of, again, trucks moving containers for example, or other equipment that’s moving containers, that kind of thing as well.

So it does tend to be an important source in cities that have ports.

Scott: near the start of this, you just mentioned how large the overall costs are to the society and the economy in general. Do you have a rough estimate of what the cost benefit is going to be. And I know it’s going to depend a bit on each intervention of tackling air pollution.

Dr Brauer: it does depend but sort of best examples that we have, have been up until recently in the US they’re actually required for every federal regulation to do a cost benefit assessment. And every year that they did this air quality regulations were the most costly of all federal regulations, but also were the ones with the greatest benefit to cost ratio.

And that ratio, depending on the regulation, was anywhere from sort of a four to one ratio to a 30 to one ratio. So every dollar you spend, you get $30 back in benefits, again, because of these large impacts on health. so, for the most part, every air quality regulation that is contemplated, is beneficial and it’s highly beneficial from a benefit cost assessment.

And it’s a little bit more complicated in places like BC, because our air quality is quite good, so we’ve already, for the most part, dealt with sort of the low hanging fruit, the things that are easiest and least expensive to deal with. So we are getting into places where we’re more at that three to one, four to one ratio, but we’re still quite positive from a benefit to cost perspective.

Scott: Right? So we should still be trying to put quite a bit of resources into this during the kind of recovery and rebuilding effort, just because the impacts are so large.

Dr Brauer: Yeah, absolutely. And again, as I stated earlier that’s sort of one of the beautiful things about improving air quality is if you do it, you get this benefit kind of across the board, across the society, which is quite different than saying, even something like tobacco, smoking for example, we know that’s also quite harmful and quite costly from a health perspective.

But how are we actually going to implement that? we have to really target things to specific individuals, specific groups we serve. I have to say, all right, who are we going to identify who’s smoking? Who’s at risk from smoking? What programs are we going to implement to help people stop smoking, all of that kind of thing.

Whereas air pollution, you just clean the air. Everybody’s breathing. You get that benefit right away. again, very equitable as well.

Scott: Right. So I’ve sometimes seen, EV rebates being criticized as kind of giveaways to wealthier people who are generally the people who can afford Teslas and other more expensive electric vehicles. But because of this and how widespread the impacts are going to be, it actually is more equitable than it seems on just the initial face of it.

Dr Brauer: yeah, there still are issues with you know, could the people who are buying Teslas just buy them or would they buy them anyways and should they be buying them anyways if they can afford them making that choice. So, I think, you know, there sort of are issues, but the fact is that if they’re driving that vehicle compared to a vehicle that’s creating more pollution or feeding more emissions related to climate change, there will be a larger societal benefit, from that. so I guess two sides to that point still.

Scott: Right there definitely some tweaks that could probably still be made, but it’s not necessarily as inequitable as it seems on its face. That’s probably where it comes out to. I guess one final question before I let you go, this is kind of circling back a little bit to the general population level stuff, but do we have a idea of what the sociological impacts of air pollution are, which groups bear the largest impact, in general, as well as the interaction of the virus and air pollution?

Dr Brauer: So in general, we certainly know that, the people in terms of health impacts are people with pre-existing diseases. So even though air pollution causes some of the diseases that are also many other causes. so this tends to be older segments of the population, as well as the very young, so we’re especially concerned with pregnant women and young infants.

That’s sort of very general from an age perspective, thinking about it from where people live and, we know, in Canada, but also elsewhere around the world that people of lower socioeconomic levels. So people generally with lower incomes, lower levels of education tend to bear more of the brunt of air pollution due to a number of factors where they can afford to live.

So for example, we’ve done lots of work locally on a sort of transportation related air pollution. And we know that people who live close to major roads, and in areas that are more densely, trafficked, they have a much higher impact of air pollution than people who they live farther away from those roads.

We know that people who tend to live in sort of lower lying areas compared to sort of up slope tend to get higher levels of air pollution and are more effected and all those sort of, have economic mates. So who are those people? It tends to be people who, have lower, incomes.

And this is even more extreme if you go to the US it’s not just an economic issue, it’s actually a racial issue. So there’s longstanding sort of segregation of cities in the US based on race. so even if you don’t account for incomes, in the US, ethnic minorities. So African Americans and Hispanics tend to actually live in areas with higher levels of air pollution and bear the bruyt of that.

And in Canada, we see some of that, in some of our first nations communities as well. So they’re, for example, still using diesel generators to provide power because they’ve never been connected to the power grid and actually don’t have access to some of them are cleaner sources of power.

And to some extent, the same thing happens in our metropolitan areas that are both some recent immigrant groups and first nations tend to live in areas with higher levels of air pollution.

Scott: Before I let go, is there anything else you feel we missed or should discuss?

Dr Brauer: No. I think just to add sort of locally, I mentioned this earlier, but our needs were concerned from an air quality perspective,, especially this time of year, are wildfires. And so it’s just important from a planning perspective, to think about, quite likely that this pandemic is going to be continuing as we move into wildfire season.

This interaction between air pollution and COVID 19, this could rear its ugly head if we get a wildfire smoke event that starts to affect large populated areas, such as the lower mainland, as we’ve had in some previous summers. So now is really the time to prepare and plan for that and a whole host of things, which understandably are going to be difficult to do in the middle of the pandemic, but at a whole host of things that we and people individually should be thinking about. And that means are people who have preexisting heart and lung disease, really making sure that their disease is as well managed as that can be, so that they have enough medication., we’ve had some discussions about longterm care facilities, which we know have been sort of the heart of the the COVID 19 situation in Canada in general. Do they have, for example, high enough air filtration so that if there is a smoker that they can filter the air. So again, now’s the time to be thinking about looking at their, ventilation systems and making sure they’re working as well as they can and they have appropriate filtration.

Individuals who know they’re sensitive to air pollution and may also be, among those groups that are perhaps at greatest risk from COVID 19, thinking about purchasing home air cleaners, stores, making sure they have enough supply of air cleaners, all of these kinds of things. We should be thinking about those things now, before we have an event upon us.

Scott: Okay. Well, if our listeners are interested in finding out more, do you have, any recommendations where they can look as well as where they can find your work?

Dr Brauer: Yeah. A few good places to look are, the BCCDC or British Columbia Centre for Disease Control has a number of fact sheets on air pollution, wildfires and air pollution and a number of the issues that we’ve discussed; also the British Columbia lung association has a wealth of resources, including, we have lots of short videos that would have been prepared over a number of years on all kinds of aspects of air pollution. And then for air quality levels Metro Vancouver the measurements of air quality that are done in 24/7, that’s all available easily online through Metro Vancouver or through the province, just look for air quality BC.

Scott: Dr Brauer. Thank you for joining me today.

Dr Brauer: My pleasure.

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