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NORDIK Institute conducts air quality study

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Ontario – Sault Ste. Marie has been selected as the site for a major outdoor air quality study, and local researchers, health professionals and students will have an opportunity to participate.

“Algoma University’s NORDIK Institute will be working closely with a team from Health Canada to collect data on air quality and its impact on the health of humans,” said Dr. Gayle Broad, NORDIK’s director. “This is the third study of this type in a Canadian urban centre, and the research findings are expected to make a substantial contribution to our understanding of the impact of air quality on human health, specifically on our respiratory and vascular systems.”

The research will be conducted at two sites in the city, where the Ministry of the Environment currently has air quality monitoring equipment, one in the Bayview area and one adjacent to Sault College. Study participants will be spending several weeks at each of the two sites, with their respiratory and vascular systems being closely monitored by health care professionals including registered nurses, respiratory therapists and ultrasound technicians.

Dr. Robert Dales, a lead investigator, has lived in Sault Ste. Marie and is now working in Ottawa with Health Canada. He is a lung specialist and health researcher with Health Canada. Dales worked with the team to design the study, and will be closely involved in the data collection and analysis of data and final interpretation of the results.

“This study will help us to better understand the health effects of various air pollutants, so that the government of Canada can develop air quality policies based on sound science.

Subjects in the current study will be exposed to urban air pollution including motor vehicle and industrial emissions, and will also take into account weather and airborne allergens. The encouragement from many community members and leaders is very much appreciated. These types of studies could not be done without local support.

This will provide a tremendous opportunity for students and others between the ages of 18 and 45, in good health and non-smokers, to find out a bit more about how research is actually conducted. “We are currently recruiting primarily students to participate as study volunteers,” said Ildiko Horvath, study coordinator. “We need 60 participants for five weeks each to agree to stay outside at the study sites, approximately 8 hours per day, and undergo an extensive set of daily testing.” The study participants will be compensated for their time and inconvenience.

Dr. Arthur Perlini, associate vice president (Academic & Research) of Algoma University, acknowledges that this is the largest study conducted by the university to date. “We are very pleased that NORDIK has been able to forge this research partnership with Dr. Dales and the team at Health Canada. This research is likely to make a significant impact on our knowledge of the impact of air quality on the health of humans, an important area of research and of national, and indeed, international interest.”

NORDIK Institute is a community-based research institute attached to Algoma University, and has conducted research on a variety of topics including the social economy, culture and the arts, and socio-economic impact analysis. NORDIK also works closely with indigenous communities to respond to their research needs.