Press Release


January 25, 2019

Shocking new scientific evidence suggests invisible air pollution can get into our brains, change our DNA, and cause dementia and other diseases



Sunday, February 17 at 8 pm ET (8:30 NT) and online at CBC GEM from Friday, February 15 at 4 pm.


Website & Trailer:

Downloadable Photos and Press Notes:




Winnipeg/Toronto (January 25, 2019) – Matthew is a bright, active 10-year-old boy. He loves playing outside and just tried out for hockey. But he also has asthma and had to leave the city and move to the countryside – because he couldn’t breathe. He wasn’t living in Delhi or Beijing. His family had to move away from Toronto.

As the new Zoot Pictures documentary SOMETHING IN THE AIR, premiering on CBC’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki on Sunday, February 17 at 8 pm ET (8:30 NT) reveals, air pollution is killing thousands of people around the world every day. Cities across Asia and Europe have had to shut down and stop traffic to manage “Airpocalypse” pollution events, when the air is unsafe. But air pollution is a major killer everywhere, even places we think of as safe. How dangerous is the pollution we can’t even see?

Travelling across North America to England, Mexico, China and India, SOMETHING IN THE AIR presents the brightest minds working to answer just that question. New, extremely portable monitoring technologies are changing our understanding of where air is unsafe, from downtown streets to highways and even on trains. Air pollution can be in places we don’t expect, with huge changes in air quality from one city block to the next. Shocking new laboratory research is showing how pollution can actually change our DNA in just a few hours.

Keith lives in Toronto and rides his bike to work, so we track his bike route and find out what’s in the air. From home through downtown, his portable air monitor shows the pollution levels minute by minute. CGI reveals pollution in surprising places and the invisible micro-particles in the air from vehicle exhaust. How dangerous are they?

New scientific research is showing the answers may be worse than we feared. A rise in dementia among dogs in heavily-polluted Mexico City led to a shocking discovery: microscopic particles of air pollution can travel from nerve cells in our noses directly into our brains. In 2017, a study of 6.5 million Ontario health records confirmed that the closer you live to a major highway, the higher your odds of contracting dementia. Further research from USC in Los Angeles revealed that these airborne particulates actually shrink the brain, get into the bloodstream and even into the womb.

How do we stay safe from a toxic threat that is mostly invisible? New technologies, tools and data are changing what we know about pollution sources, how avoid them and how to fix them.

“We felt this was an important subject because air pollution is a bigger health hazard in Canada than traffic accidents and most diseases, but it’s not on our radar,” says SOMETHING IN THE AIR director/co-writer Leif Kaldor.  “We don’t think about the air when we’re buying a house or deciding where we work, but it affects us all. When you see metal in the brain and increased levels of dementia, it’s pretty shocking. And talking to the experts in some of the cities with the worst air was powerful, disturbing and crushing. There’s a reason it’s the number one health issue in the world.”

SOMETHING IN THE AIR looks at the most essential element for survival – air: what’s in it, its effects on our bodies, how new technology is changing our ability to understand air pollution, and how a motivated public can change the equation – for the better.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR is also available to stream online on CBC GEM from Friday, February 15 at 4 pm.

A dedicated website companion to the film,, produced with the participation of The Telus Fund, delves more deeply into the subject of air pollution. A resource for finding apps and information that can help Canadians understand and avoid air pollution, the site also has information about the documentary, the experts involved and behind the scenes photos and clips.

ling e equation – he better.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR is directed and written by Leif Kaldor, and produced and written by Leslea Mair. Director of Photography is Ian Rogers. Editor is Joni Church. Original Music composed by Connie Kaldor. For CBC: Sue Dando, Executive in Charge of Production, and Jennifer Dettman, Executive Director, Unscripted Content.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR is produced by Zoot Pictures Inc. in association with The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and with the participation of The Canadian Media Fund (CMF), The Rogers Documentary Fund, The Telus Fund, The Government of Manitoba – Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit, and the financial assistance of The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.

About Zoot Pictures Inc.

Award-winning Zoot Pictures Inc. is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The company has been producing award-winning documentaries and lifestyle programming for Canadian and international audiences for two decades. Its two principals, Leif Kaldor and Leslea Mair, work as a team, writing, producing and directing their projects. Along with SOMETHING IN THE AIR, Zoot’s credits include the feature-length documentary Losing Our Religion; the acclaimed documentary about fracking, Shattered Ground; two films about the military and consumer use of drones – Age of the Drone and Remote Control War; MS WARS: Hope, Science and the Internet; Eco-Home Adventures; Weekend Wonders; Path to Shaolin; Big Business, Big Union, Small Town; Black Tuesday; Victims; Two Gun Cohen; and Tommy Douglas in his Own Words.

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster. Through our mandate to inform, enlighten and entertain, we play a central role in strengthening Canadian culture. As Canada’s trusted news source, we offer a uniquely Canadian perspective on news, current affairs and world affairs. Our distinctively homegrown entertainment programming draws audiences from across the country. Deeply rooted in communities, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We are leading the transformation to meet the needs of Canadians in a digital world.

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For media preview and interview requests, please contact:

Jeremy Katz, Publicist

SOMETHING IN THE AIR – Zoot Pictures Inc.

Office: 416-656-6970

Mobile/Text: 416-997-6970