Adopting hydrogen and fuel cell technologies will lead to cleaner air and a reduced threat of global warming – environmental benefits that are intrinsically tied to our health. In terms of increased health care costs, missed days of work, and reduced worker productivity, air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels costs Canadians and the Canadian economy billions of dollars per year. The full social costs of air pollution, however, are even higher, including not only health care costs and lost productivity, but also emotional pain, suffering, and premature death.

Although Greater Vancouver currently experiences good regional air quality relative to most other urban areas in North America, health impacts still occur at current levels and particulate matter, sulphur oxides, ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions are forecast to increase as a result of predicted growth in population, trade and transportation. Industrial operations, commercial facilities such as dry cleaners and gas stations, home furnaces, fireplaces, and the steady streams of cars, trucks and buses all generate air pollution.

The increased emission of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion is also contributing to global warming, a serious threat to our wellbeing. Global warming will mean that we will experience shorter and milder winters. However, climate change scientists tell us that we can also expect heat waves during summer months to occur more frequently; be hotter; last longer; and have higher levels of humidity.

More intense heat waves may cause an increase in heat-related illnesses (heat stroke and dehydration); respiratory and cardiovascular illness, physical and mental stress; and the spread of infections.

A warmer climate will likely cause more frequent and more intense severe weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods and droughts. These events have many potential health impacts, including direct physical injury or death, as well as psychological distress due to the loss or injury of loved ones and property, mass evacuations, and moving into shelters. Warmer temperatures and prolonged heat waves will also bring an increase in air pollution, particularly in urban and industrialized areas.

Reducing air pollution through energy sources like hydrogen and devices such as fuel cells will help save lives and improve the health of ourselves and our planet.

Source: Government of Canada