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Frigid arctic air settling in over Toronto bringing wind chills as low as –35
Bitter temperatures expected to stick around until Friday
A frigid mass of arctic air is settling over southern Ontario, bringing with it wind chill values as low as –35 from Tuesday night right through to Friday morning.
Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for the city, warning of the risk of frostbite developing “within minutes on exposed skin.”
Overnight temperatures of –20 to –25 C are expected, with winds gusting to up to 70 km/h.
The cold follows a major winter storm that dumped more than 20 centimetres of snow on the city, which made the morning commute painful for many on Tuesday.
In the Greater Toronto Area, roads were slippery for hours following the storm, provincial police said.
“Plows have been through, salt trucks have been through, but it’s still a slick drive for a lot of people,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police’s highway safety division, said on Tuesday.
“A lot of secondary roads are still snow-covered.”
Schmidt said the OPP dealt with about two dozens crashes in the GTA on Tuesday morning.
In Whitby, Ont., for example, a crash involving a transport truck closed westbound lanes of Highway 401 at Thickson Road South. All eastbound lanes are now open. The driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The truck was carrying hazardous material and cleanup was underway after some of it leaked, Schmidt said. The crash was weather related, he added, because there was blowing snow on the highway at the time.
The truck is now upright.
As for plowing early Tuesday, major highways were cleared as of 6 a.m. ET, Schmidt said.
Schmidt reminded drivers to clear snow from their cars before setting out and to give themselves extra time.
Shortly after noon, a pipe burst in the pedestrian tunnel that leads to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Crews shut off the valve and are cleaning up residual water. Passengers are being directed to the ferry until the cleanup is done.
33 cm of snow fell at Pearson
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport recorded about 33 centimetres of snow in total from the storm, which began at about noon on Monday and ended at about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, Environment Canada said.
Monday’s total at Pearson was 26.4 centimetres, while Tuesday’s total so far is seven centimetres.
About 20 centimetres fell in downtown Toronto, while 23 centimetres fell in Mississauga and 28 centimetres in Brampton, Environment Canada reported.
The GTA got the highest snowfall amounts of anywhere in the province because of easterly winds coming off the Great Lakes, said Peter Kimbell, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada, based in Ottawa.
Kimbell said Monday’s total of 26.4 centimetres at Pearson did not break a record, but it was the highest snowfall amount recorded at the airport since Feb. 6, 2008, when 30.4 centimetres of snow fell.
Snow causing TTC delays
The weather caused a number of major delays and cancellations across the Toronto Transit Commission system.
The Line 3 Scarborough RT remained out of service on Tuesday, but shuttle buses were available.
Things improving slowly on #TTC surface routes. Express bus service is being reinstated this afternoon, but Line 3 Scarborough will be served by shuttle buses for the rest of service today. We’ll spend the night trying to get things up and running for the morning rush hour.
Subway service resumed on Line 2 between Woodbine and Kennedy stations, but east-end commuters were significantly delayed early Tuesday.
A signal issue on Line 2 at Pape station caused “longer than normal travel times” westbound from Woodbine to Yonge stations.
Various bus routes experienced delays, detours and cancellations.
Check the TTC service alerts Twitter account for more details on what’s running and what isn’t.
Some GO transit buses were also cancelled, and some trains were delayed.
No school in Peel, Halton regions
The Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board and Durham District School Board opted to cancel all school buses — but schools remained open.
Meanwhile, the Peel District School Board, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board and Halton District School Board went further, cancelling school for the day.
To all the #peelfam who asked before: due to weather conditions, all schools and offices in the Peel District School Board are closed for Tuesday, Jan. 29. This includes all busing and all before/after school programs, including night school. #ONStorm #PeelSnowDay pic.twitter.com/pnbFMhDCSf
In Toronto, Crestwood Preparatory School and both Leo Baeck day schools were closed, as were all schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
York Region District School Board kept its schools open and buses running.
2 university campuses delayed opening
University of Toronto Scarborough Campus was also closed until 10 a.m., and University of Toronto Mississauga was closed until noon ET.
* @UofT St. George campus open as of 6am * @UTSC will reopen at 10am * @UTM will reopen at 12pm
Sheridan College, meanwhile, opted to close and cancel all classes for the day.
Some flights cancelled
On Tuesday morning, Toronto Pearson International Airport reported some flights had been cancelled.
That’s nothing compared to the situation Monday, when a third of all flights leaving Pearson were cancelled.
Still, it’s worth checking the airport’s arrivals and departures board to check on the status of your flight.
Travelling with us this afternoon? Residual effects from yesterday’s weather continue and airlines may delay or cancel flights. Please check your flight status with your airline prior to leaving for the airport. https://t.co/DouO5dABAQ.
With files from Muriel Draaisma, Kate McGillivray
Infants exposed to cleaning supplies more susceptible to asthma, study finds
New research suggests infants who are exposed to cleaning products are more likely to develop asthma and wheeze later in life. (Judy / Flickr)
TORONTO — New research suggests infants who are exposed to cleaning products are more likely to develop asthma and wheeze later in life.
The study, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, used the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Cohort Study to determine the levels of cleaning product exposure for 2,022 Canadian infants in the first three months of their lives..
The researchers then assessed the children at the age of three to determine if they had developed asthma, wheeze or allergies. The researchers found an association between early exposure to cleaning products and a risk of asthma and wheeze, though there appears to be no such connection to allergies.
“We can’t tell which brands are worse than others based on the data that we have, but we think that the findings are enough to tell the public that maybe they should limit their exposure or find ways to minimize the hazard that comes with these exposures,” Jaclyn Parks, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
Parks said previous studies have looked at exposure to these chemicals among people who clean for a living, but this is the first to look at exposure among infants. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network of Centres of Excellence.
The researchers believe chemicals in these products can trigger the inflammatory pathways of the immune system and in turn damage the respiratory lining, which can lead to asthma and wheeze.
They suggest reading the labels of cleaning products and choosing those with fewer ingredients. They also recommend avoiding spray bottles, which carry a higher risk.
“Instead of spraying them, you should put them on a cloth instead,” Parks said. “You can also look into rinsing a surface after you’ve cleaned with it.”
The American Lung Association recommends against the use of cleaning products with volatile organic compounds, scents and other irritants; neither the U.S. nor Canada requires companies to list all the ingredients in their products.
Parks said she would like to see that changed and would like to see warning labels added to the bottles of cleaning products.
“I want people to question that idea that when they walk into a home and it smells like cleaning products, you shouldn’t necessarily go ‘Ooh, this house is so clean and great,’ she said. “I want people to smell that and think: ‘Oh OK, they just cleaned and these are pollutants in the air that I’m smelling.’”
Toronto Star nominated for seven National Newspaper Awards
The Toronto Star has been nominated for seven National Newspaper Awards, one of the highest honours in Canadian journalism, including two nominations for coverage of the Raptors’ championship run.
A team from Torstar publication Hamilton Spectator has also been nominated in the politics category.
“Journalism is such a public endeavour but what the public rarely has a chance to see is the heart, grit and sheer determination that goes into work like this, from setting up the perfect shot to hitting the perfect tone to painstaking research, documentation, court fights and interviews,” said Irene Gentle, the Star’s editor-in-chief. “Whole teams of journalists put their all into this work and it is terrific to see it recognized. Congratulations to all nominees, who continually prove with their work that journalism matters.”
The Star’s Jesse McLean and David Bruser are nominated in the business category — with Marie-Eve Fournier, Katia Gagnon and Stéphanie Grammond of La Presse — for their collaborative investigation that revealed one in five Canadians who file for bankruptcy are doing it for at least the second time.
This is Bruser’s seventh NNA nomination.
The Star’s “Operation Transparency” was nominated for project of the year. The Star’s project, five years in the making, revealed how much doctors were billing the provincial health plan and created a database to allow readers to access that information online.
Cameron Tulk, Nathan Pilla, McKenna Deighton, Andres Plana and Tania Pereira were nominated in the presentation/design category for their work in the Undeniable series, which showcased to readers the effects of climate change across the country.
Edward Keenan was nominated for his columns discussing life and politics in Toronto.
Josh Rubin got the nod in the short feature category for his story on Canadian food truck drivers caught in the drama of a U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
The Star was honoured twice for coverage of the Raptors run to the championship — Bruce Arthur for his columns and photographer Rick Madonik for his action picture of guard Kyle Lowry in Game 6 of Toronto’s historic win over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Final.
The Star’s sister paper, the Hamilton Spectator, was nominated in the politics category. Steve Buist, Matthew Van Dongen, Teviah Moro and Andrew Dreschel’s reporting showed 24 billion litres of untreated sewage had made it into sensitive wetlands over the past four years, though Hamilton’s city councillors had chosen to keep the spill a secret.
This is the ninth time Buist has been nominated for an NNA.
The Globe and Mail led all publications with 19, and Montreal digital daily La Presse racked up 10 nominations.
The nominations across 21 categories were selected from 774 entries for work published in 2020. Organizers said Wednesday that the winners will be announced next month.
Is the air on London Underground fit to breathe?
Various studies in recent years have showed that London’s commuters could be exposed to dangerous levels of bacteria, particulate matter and nanodust particles on the underground system. In June, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched a new plan to improve air quality on the London Underground, including more testing, cleaning and better information for passengers.
London’s air pollution is one of the main challenges facing the capital and its inhabitants. At the start of this year, the pollution levels surpassed those found in Beijing, one of the most notoriously smoggy cities in the world.
The first culprit that comes to mind is the exhaust fumes from the busy traffic – a problem that Khan promised to tackle by completely banning petrol and diesel vehicles in Greater London by 2040.
But public transport passengers are also exposed to high levels of noxious air substances, according to various studies and statistics that came to light over the course of this year. A better understanding of how dangerous the air passengers breathe in every day was urgently needed as Transport for London’s (TfL) own research into the composition of dust particles on the tube is over a decade old.
As a result, in June Khan instigated a new review of air pollution levels on the Tube, and introduced a series of measures to minimise dust levels on the Underground. The initiative is part of a wider-ranging undertaking across planning, housing, construction, transport and river services to tackle London’s dirty air. The Mayor and TfL have also more than doubled investment in tackling air quality to £875m over the next five years.
“Tube staff and the millions of passengers who use the Underground regularly deserve to breathe the cleanest air possible,” Khan said. “TfL’s new Underground air quality programme will help ensure dust and particles are kept to an absolute minimum.”
Air pollution: what does the evidence say?
In 2020, the University of Southampton published research that started raising questions.
The study didn’t specifically focus on London and, at the time, TfL rejected any claims that London Underground air might be unsafe. But the questions raised by the findings inspired campaigners to demand more research into dust concentrations on the capital’s tube system.
Fast forward to 2020, two further independent studies, and TfL’s own statistics, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, claim to have found dangerous levels of bacteria and harmful particulate matter (PM) on the busiest commuter lines.
The first study, from the University of Surrey, found that “those on the Underground are the most exposed to poor air quality during their commutes to work,” even ahead of drivers and bus passengers.
The average concentration of PM2.5 across the Underground was of 34.5 micrograms per cubic metre, while those travelling on carriages with open windows on the Victoria and Northern lines were exposed to the highest levels: 131.6 and 104 micrograms respectively.
The revelation was followed by TfL’s own air quality figures, released after a Sunday Times Freedom of Information request, which showed that regular commuters were breathing in around 12 million toxic nanodust particles per minute.
Most of the pollution found on the tube originates from a combination of the friction from Tube trains against their rails, air ventilated into the Tube network from above ground, and skin particles from passengers – all of which contribute to dust in the Tube system.
The London Metropolitan University also declared the London Underground “the dirtiest form of transport”, after it found a number of bacteria, including nine antibiotic-resistant bacteria identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Victoria line was the dirtiest, with 22 different types of living bacteria, followed by the Circle and Piccadilly lines with 20 types, and Northern and Jubilee with 18 different types.
TfL’s own commissioned study by the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM), which dates back to 2004, concluded that the particles on the Underground were very different from those above ground, and that the size, nature and the exposure times of underground particles represent “a very low risk of affecting the health of workers or customers”.
Leaving no stone unturned
Over a decade later, both our understanding of harmful air pollutants and the activity of the London Underground have advanced, meaning an updated analysis is pressing.
The Mayor promised to leave “no stone unturned” and commissioned an updated review of the evidence. This will be carried out with the support of the Department of Health’s independent expert Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), which provides advice on the health effects of air pollutants.
Firstly, testing with dozens of staff and simulated passenger journeys will be carried out at more than a dozen stations, in order to monitor how dust levels change at different times and locations. Larger samples will now be taken by the available testing equipment.
This will be complemented by an expanded cleaning regime, which will see nearly 50 stations and five tunnel sections cleaned at night with industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic “wands”. According to TfL, the equipment will collect metal particles and ensure tunnel walls are left clear of accumulations of dust, oil and grease.
TfL currently uses the most efficient dust control measure available, namely regenerative and rheostatic braking, which recaptures energy to reduce friction on rails thereby reducing dust. The entire passenger fleet is now fitted with this technology, and 80% of the passenger fleet is regenerative. The remaining 20% will be fitted with regenerative rolling stock as part of the modernisation of the Piccadilly, Central and Bakerloo lines.
Another crucial element is the type of fuel used to power the machines and tools used in maintenance and upgrade work underground. Following a trial, TfL says replacement fuel for diesel generators will now be used to power all motorised work platforms on 40% of the Tube network.
How do other cities fare?
The operator also promised to look into the best examples of dust management in metro systems around the world.
London’s tube isn’t by far the only to struggle with air quality problems, and research shows that other cities have it much worse.
Last year, a study looking at Paris’ RER metro system revealed that PM10 levels reached up to 70 to 120 micrograms per cubic meter, and even as much as 1,000 micrograms at peak times.
Similarly in Toronto, PM2.5 concentration reached 95 micrograms per cubic metre, a level consistent with the average day in pollution-choked Beijing. This means that Toronto’s commuters were breathing air that was roughly 10 times heavier in particulates than that found at street level.
“We have been monitoring dust levels on the Tube for many years and, through a wide range of measures, have ensured that particle levels are well within Health & Safety Executive guidelines,” said managing director of London Underground, Mark Wild.
“But as scientific understanding of the effects of particles develops, we are ensuring that we’re both using the very latest research and that we’re doing everything possible to keep the air underground clean for our customers and staff.”
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