Fast-food chains and insolvency lawyers aren’t the only ones to benefit during a recession.

Asthmatics do better, too.

The equation, says University of Toronto Prof. Murray Thomson, is simple.

“When manufacturing in Ontario is at a very low level, like right now, you don’t need as much electricity.

The first source of electricity that they turn off is the coal-fired power plants,” said Thomson, a professor of chemical engineering who specializes in air pollution.

Unlike nuclear energy, coal energy is nimble — easily adjusted to meet the whims of the market.

So it makes sense that in a market such as Ontario, where factories have been steadily closing, change is in the air. Literally.

According to the Independent Electricity System operator, the organization in charge of co-ordinating Ontario’s energy supply, coal-fired output fell dropped 45 per cent in the first five months of this year versus the same time period in 2008.

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