The Illness Costs of Air Pollution (ICAP) is a software program designed to estimate the health and economic impacts due to air pollution that was developed by consultants contracted by the Ontario Medical Association. More recently, the Canadian Medical Association contracted these same consultants to expand the software for all of Canada. The ICAP program has undergone several revisions and refinements, with the most recent (version 3) completed in 2008. The estimates reported here assume medium population growth and no change in the ambient levels of air pollution (O3 and PM2.5) from 2004 average levels.
In 2010, air pollution may contribute to up to 9,500 premature deaths in Ontario and 350 premature deaths in Simcoe Muskoka. The majority of these premature deaths are from chronic exposure to air pollution over several years (or even decades). However, premature deaths can also result as an acute response to air pollution exposure.
It is expected that air pollution-related illness and premature death will continue to increase. The reason for the increases in health effects is from population growth and the aging of the population, as pollution levels are not expected to increase. Seniors (ages 65+) currently make up 16% of the population; however, this figure is projected to reach 22% by 2024.
Figure one shows the projected increases in premature mortality over the next 15 years in Simcoe Muskoka. The number of premature chronic disease deaths attributable to air pollution is expected to increase from an estimated 320 deaths in 2010 to around 550 deaths in 2024. The number of premature acute illness deaths attributable to air pollution is also expected to increase over the same 15 year time period, from around 50 in 2010 to 70 in 2024.
In 2010, it is estimated that acute illness from air pollution exposure in Simcoe Muskoka will result in about 175 hospital admissions and 1,500 emergency department visits.