04/14/2015 03:24 EDT | Updated 06/22/2015 09:59 EDT

Health advocates say Edmonton air worse than Toronto's due to coal-fired plants

EDMONTON - Health advocates say Alberta's reliance on burning coal to generate electricity is affecting people's health.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment says the quality of the air in the Edmonton area is worse than Toronto's even though its population is much smaller.

Dr. Joe Vipond says the main factor is that more coal is being burned in Alberta while Ontario is phasing out the fossil fuel.

He says coal-based air pollution can contribute to health problems such as heart attacks, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, emphysema and lung cancer.

The association says since 2010 there have been two occasions when Edmonton's air pollution levels exceeded federal Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The group wants Alberta to improve air quality by following Ontario’s lead in shutting down coal-fired power plants. (CHED-CHQR)