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Vancouver, BC – February 10, 2015 – Researchers at Simon Fraser University are warning that exposure to lead, second-hand smoke, pesticides and other environmental chemicals can increase the risk of pre-term birth. The news came with the launch of a new outreach program from the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas, a project at Simon Fraser University that aggregates environmental data and its impact on public health, to present it in a meaningful way to Canadians online.

Having access to credible data can have a significant impact on public health by informing individual choices and enabling understanding of things outside of our individual control. With funding from the .CA Community Investment Program, researchers have developed a new video to help raise awareness of the risks of environmental toxins. 

The video is available online here.

Key facts

Globally 15 million babies are born pre-term each year, increasing their risk of death in the first year of life or heart disease or learning difficulties if they survive.

  • Smoking bans and reductions in air pollution and environmental chemicals can play a significant role in reducing pre-term births.
  • The Canadian Environmental Health Atlas was initiated in 2009 by a multidisciplinary team at SFU and other Canadian universities to advance knowledge on environmental health. The goal of the project is to make scientific research accessible to Canadians and researchers through interactive tools, videos, maps, and graphics.
  • The .CA Community Investment Program granted $50,000 to aid in the development of online resources to make the data more accessible to all Canadians. Through a series of animated videos online, important environmental and health data can be made widely available to individual Canadians, policy-makers and researchers to help inform decision-making and ultimately improve public health outcomes. 

Executive quotes

Personal choice has an impact on public health, but there are things outside of our individual control. Having access to data is the cornerstone of making good personal choices and helping policymakers to develop legislation to protect us from environmental toxins.

Dr. Bruce Lanphear, from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University

Accessing credible data on health and the environment has historically been limited to the reach of doctors, librarians, and researchers. Funding from the .CA Community Investment Program allows this information to be more widely distributed to a broad Canadian audience through a series of innovative, online resources, possibly improving our nation's health outcomes as a result. This is authentically in keeping with .CA's mandate to build a better online Canada.

David Fowler, Director of marketing and communications at CIRA

Additional resources

  • The Canadian Environmental Health Atlas is one of 54 projects funded through the .CA Community Investment Program to date. For a full listing of the projects, please visit
  • More information on the Atlas, and to stay informed of new research and resource materials, visit them online at
  • Previews of this research were presented at the FIGO 2015 XXI World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Vancouver. Additional information on the FIGO 2015 XXI World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Vancouver can be found online at

About CIRA and the Community Investment Program

Through the Community Investment Program, CIRA funds projects that demonstrate the capacity to build a better online Canada. The .CA team manages Canada's country code top-level domain on behalf of all Canadians. A Member-based organization, CIRA represents the interests of Canada's Internet community internationally.

Media Contacts

Tanya O'Callaghan

Senior Manager, Communications