The Health Warnings that will be Needed if the Expansion Proceeds


Environment Canada funded a study that was carried out by aircraft emissions expert, Professor Judith Patterson, of Concordia University in Montr�al. The results were published in 1994 and specifically examined changes in the level of emissions from the Toronto Island Airport if commercial traffic was raised near capacity using jets. The current crop of airport expansionist say the study is irrelevant because they do not intend to use jets. But turboprops are no longer competitive and a commitment to turboprops for commercial service is a commitment to failure. Ultimately, if the airport stays open, use of jets is inevitable.

For the limited range of toxic emissions that were studied, the report concluded that there would be dramatic increases, typically over 1,000%. The emissions studied in the report are major contributors to smog, the greenhouse effect, and eye and respiratory irritation. Examination of a broader range of emissions, generated by the combustion of jet fuel, would likely reveal an even more frightening range of environmental and health effects.. 

Flash forward from 1994 to 2002 and Toronto is in the throes of a major crisis over the quality of its air. Toronto�s poor air quality, signaled by an unprecedented number of smog alerts in the summer of 2002, is responsible for increases in asthma, pneumonia and heart failure. Toronto citizens have reached a point where they have zero toleration for any scheme that will increase the air pollution load, particularly in the heavily populated downtown core and waterfront. 

In the summer, the prevailing winds blow into the downtown from the southwest, bringing cooling lake breezes. They also blow the pollution from the Island airport and its lakeshore flight paths, directly into the nearby heart of the city. 

At various points around Pearson Airport in suburban Mississauga, large signs warning of potential noise pollution have been erected. If approval to expand the island Airport is granted, similar signs, warning about increases in noxious gases, carcinogens and noise, will need to be erected�south of Queen St. as far as Parkdale in the west and the Beaches in the east. Anyone conducting a property transaction in this key sector of the city may ultimately have to sign a waiver acknowledging these potential problems.

The following graphics, taken from Community AIR slide presentations, provide an overview of Toronto's air pollution crisis and how an expanded Island Airport will substantially increase the problem for Toronto residents. The pollution threat from an expanded airport is so serious that it is likely that warning signs, similar in nature to those now found in some neighbourhoods around Pearson Internatioal, will need to be erected through much of the Toronto waterfront.