Annual Air Pollution across the GTHA

The following animation outlines the change in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Annual NO2 concentration from 2005 to 2016.

The following article was written in honor of Clean Air Day, which falls on June 7th, 2023. It has been published on the official website of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.


Environments and Health Signature Initiative Webinar: Child Health | April 3, 2023 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (ET)


Children’s health is particularly sensitive to the environment. What they are exposed to during early years can have a significant impact on their healthy development. To better understand these health pathways and how to improve children’s health outcomes, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded three research projects considering different aspects of child health: obesity, IBD and asthma & COPD. In this webinar, learn what the researchers discovered through their project and what they plan to do next.

About the Projects

The Developmental Origins of Pediatric Obesity and Obesity-Related Complications

This translational project studies clinical populations of pregnant mothers, their children and parallel rodent model systems in order to determine how early life environmental exposures (e.g.- maternal diets, high blood sugars etc.) affect the genes of the children to influence their risk for obesity. We will also determine whether altering the early life environment (e.g.- through diet etc.) modifies disease risk factors in children most susceptible for obesity. The identification of new early life biomarkers of disease could prevent the extensive health and financial burden of obesity.


The diet-microbiota-gut axis in pediatric IBD

This research program investigates the complex interactions among diet, the gut microbiota, and the host. It provides information that may be essential for personalized dietary and microbiota changes required to keep people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in remission. It is well accepted that the gut microbiota plays a crucial role in the digestion of food, particularly plant-derived starches, and the production metabolites essential for human health. The primary objective of the proposed research is to investigate the complex tripartite interactions between the diet, the gut microbiota, and the host. Additionally, this study aims to characterize the role of microbial food-derived metabolites in pediatric IBD. This study will generate the information necessary for developing methods to improve bacterial activities in our intestine as treatment for IBD patients. This research will have important implications for the quality of life of people with IBD everywhere.

Gene and environment effects on lung health and risk for chronic respiratory disease, asthma & COPD

This project studies a group of babies that have been followed since birth, whose families have filled out lots of questions about what they eat, breathe and how often they get sick. These kids and their families have also done breathing tests that measure how well their lungs are doing. From studying all of this information, we believe we can discover what things each person can do to improve their lungs and prevent them from getting chronic breathing problems, making Canada the healthiest place to live.

About the Presenters

The Developmental Origins of Pediatric Obesity and Obesity-Related Complications

Dr. Vern Dolinsky conducts research at the forefront of understanding the underlying mechanisms of gestational diabetes and its impact on the developmental origins of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders in youth. His lab employs a cutting-edge combination of experimental animal models, in vivo imaging, and cellular, molecular, biochemical, and “-omic” technologies to uncover new insights into the biological processes that lead to these conditions. These findings have the potential to revolutionize the development of therapies for the treatment of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. His work is not only advancing our understanding of these conditions, but also pushing the boundaries of what is possible in biomedical research.

The diet-microbiota-gut axis in pediatric IBD

Alain Stintzi, Ph.D. is a professor with the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, a member of the Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology, and Vice-Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. Dr. Stintzi obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Louis-Pasteur University, France (1997). He was subsequently a Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley. In 2000, he was appointed Assistant Professor at the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Oklahoma State University. Dr. Stintzi has considerable experience in systems biology approaches to study the role of the gut microbiota in infectious and chronic diseases. Dr. Stintzi has published over 130 articles and book chapters and has contributed to more than 150 scientific and educational conferences.

Gene and environment effects on lung health and risk for chronic respiratory disease, asthma & COPD

Dr. Padmaja Subbarao is a Clinician-Scientist in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, specializing clinically in severe asthma. Trained in both Epidemiology and infant and preschool lung function, she holds appointments at the University of Toronto in the Departments of Paediatrics, Physiology and in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Dr. Subbarao’s research program focuses on disentangling preschool wheeze heterogeneity to precisely predict who will develop each type of asthma, monitor its progression and discover the risk factors, exposures and underlying biology associated with each asthma subtype. She is the Director of the CHILD cohort study, one of the largest, most intensively characterized asthma birth cohorts in the world. This world-leading study enabled the discovery of the importance of the gut microbiome for the protection against asthma (cited more than 500 times).

This webinar is presented in partnership with the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.


Check out the Panel presentations, Discussion and Data Teams videos!


Linked CANUE and administrative health databases: PopDataBC, MCHP and NB_IRDT | March 27th | 2020

Linked CANUE and administrative health databases: PopDataBC and MCHP

March 27th (9 am pacific | 12 noon eastern)




Linkage of CANUE exposure data with provincially managed administrative health databases offers new and exciting opportunities for environmental health research. To date, CANUE data has been linked to data held by Population Data BC (PopData), Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP), and the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT).


Kelly Sanderson is the Lead of Business and Initiatives Development at Population Data BC. She works closely with BC government and BC SUPPORT Unit partners on joint data initiatives funded by the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). She joined the organization in 2009 and was previously the Data Access Unit Lead where she enjoyed working with and guiding many researchers through the Data Access Request process. Her educational background and related professional experience was in Urban Planning and Geographical Information systems so she readily appreciates the value CANUE data brings as a new PopData holding.

Charles Burchill has been an Associate Director at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, University of Manitoba, since 2006.  Prior to this role, he worked as a research analyst at MCHP starting in 1992.  He is actively involved with Health and Social policy-related research using Manitoba administrative health and social data.  The repository of data represents over 80 distinct programs and databases with linkable data in the areas of health, family services, justice, and education.  His graduate work was in field ecology, with the CANUE data providing an opportunity to bring his interests full circle. The CANUE data represents an important source of built environment and environmental data that can be linked through small area geographies to the overall repository.

Dr. Ted McDonald is a Professor of Economics at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Academic Director of the NB Research Data Centre, Director of the NB Institute for Research, Data and Training and the New Brunswick lead for the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit. He holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Commerce in Economics from the University of Melbourne. Dr. McDonald’s main areas of research include health status and labour market issues of immigrants, rural residents, minority groups and other subpopulations, as well as an ongoing program of research on the socioeconomic and demographic determinants of cancer.

Dany Doiron is a research associate in the Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and is CANUE’s data linkage lead. Dany holds a Masters degree in Public Policy (Simon Fraser University) and PhD in Epidemiology (University of Basel). His research explores the effects of environmental exposures on health.


Environmental health research opportunities through CPTP and CANUE | February 13th | 2020

About the Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey Brook
Dr. Jeffrey Brook is CANUE’s Principal Investigator and Scientific Director. He is also an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. He has 25 years of experience as an Environment Canada scientist working at the science-policy interface. He is one of Canada’s leading experts in air quality, recognized at all levels of government and academically, including for his substantial contributions in air pollution health research. Dr. Brook has led scientific assessments to inform policy nationally and internationally, and advised multi-stakeholder groups shaping policy.

This webinar will provide an overview of the CANUE data and research opportunities made possible by linking CPTP’s individual lifestyle, genetic and behavioural data with CANUE’s environmental exposure metrics. This collaboration provides health researchers easy access to standardized urban environmental exposures, allowing them to tackle real-world problems related to exposures and the subsequent health outcomes. Ultimately, new knowledge enabled by the CANUE-CPTP partnership will help identify cost-effective actions that promote healthy childhood development and aging, reduce the burden of chronic disease, and minimize the impact of changing environments.

Webinar registration


December 4 | 2019

Examining the Shape of the Association between Low Levels of Fine Particulate Matter and Mortality across Three Cycles of the Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort.

Pappin AJ, Christidis T, Pinault LL, Crouse DL, Brook JR, Erickson A, Hystad P, Li C, Martin RV, Meng J, Weichenthal S, van Donkelaar A, Tjepkema M, Brauer M, Burnett RT.

Environ Health Perspect. 2019 Oct;127(10):107008. doi: 10.1289/EHP5204 Epub 2019 Oct 22.



Ambient fine particulate air pollution with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 μm (PM2.5) is an important contributor to the global burden of disease. Information on the shape of the concentration-response relationship at low concentrations is critical for estimating this burden, setting air quality standards, and in benefits assessments.


We examined the concentration-response relationship between PM2.5 and nonaccidental mortality in three Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohorts (CanCHECs) based on the 1991, 1996, and 2001 census cycles linked to mobility and mortality data.


Census respondents were linked with death records through 2016, resulting in 8.5 million adults, 150 million years of follow-up, and 1.5 million deaths. Using annual mailing address, we assigned time-varying contextual variables and 3-y moving-average ambient PM2.5 at a 1×1 km spatial resolution from 1988 to 2015. We ran Cox proportional hazards models for PM2.5 adjusted for eight subject-level indicators of socioeconomic status, seven contextual covariates, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and combined oxidative potential. We used three statistical methods to examine the shape of the concentration-response relationship between PM2.5 and nonaccidental mortality.


The mean 3-y annual average estimate of PM2.5 exposure ranged from 6.7 to 8.0 μg/m3 over the three cohorts. We estimated a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.053 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.041, 1.065] per 10-μg/m3 change in PM2.5 after pooling the three cohort-specific hazard ratios, with some variation between cohorts (1.041 for the 1991 and 1996 cohorts and 1.084 for the 2001 cohort). We observed a supralinear association in all three cohorts. The lower bound of the 95% CIs exceeded unity for all concentrations in the 1991 cohort, for concentrations above 2 μg/m3 in the 1996 cohort, and above 5 μg/m3 in the 2001 cohort.


In a very large population-based cohort with up to 25 y of follow-up, PM2.5 was associated with nonaccidental mortality at concentrations as low as 5 μg/m3.



The journal Epidemiology recently interviewed study co-author and CANUE member Dan Crouse about exposure to fine particulate matter and diabetes in the Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort.

Pinault, Lauren, Michael Brauer, Daniel L. Crouse, Scott Weichenthal, Anders Erickson, Aaron van Donkelaar, Randall V. Martin et al. « Diabetes Status and Susceptibility to the Effects of PM2. 5 Exposure on Cardiovascular Mortality in a National Canadian Cohort. » Epidemiology 29, no. 6 (2018): 784-794.

Travel Awards for CPHA | Montreal May 2018

Post-doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students who are developing data for CANUE, or who have used our data to produce new research are eligible to apply for a student travel award.

We will provide up to $1,250 toward the cost of travel, hotel, and registration fees for selected events. Applications will be reviewed by a Committee of CANUE members.

The Canadian Public Health Association Annual Meeting  May 26-30, 2018 | Montreal, Ontario