Smoke and ventilation



The Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society is in complete agreement with Gordon Bell’s closing line in his letter last week: “Backyard burning is needless; heating your home is not.”

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He mentions the network of Purple Air monitors that we link to in real time on our website. If you visit you can also see the ventilation index, which at 15 is poor today, Jan. 26.

The ventilation index is a measure of the atmosphere’s ability to disperse pollution. A ventilation index of 0 implies no ability of the atmosphere to disperse pollutants (smoke) while a value of 100 implies an excellent ability to disperse pollutants. When the ventilation index for a given area has a rating of 54 or below (fair or poor), it is illegal to open burn, and the use of a wood stove should be avoided if possible.

Wood smoke is wood smoke. Regardless of whether it comes from a home stove, campfire, green waste or slash burning, or a wild fire. The PM2.5 emissions are of greatest health concern as these particles are 20 times smaller in diameter than the width of a human hair and can therefore enter the bloodstream.

There is no denying that a wood stove is a wonderful thing in a winter power outage. But the closer one lives to neighbours, the more we ask them to reconsider how they regularly heat their home.

The B.C. government is currently engaging on the topic of basic income. Our submission recommends that the tier system of billing hydro use should be eliminated to encourage electric home heating and subsidies granted to lower-income families and pensioners who heat with electricity over other forms. Emails to will be accepted until Feb. 15.

We are placing a new order for Purple Air monitors. These are small, dual-laser air quality sensors that regularly cost about $300. If anyone would like one, at a discounted cost of $150, please get in touch.

Also, to clarify about our Neighbourly Notification Program: we do not come to your door. We send out letters with education on how to burn better. As with any form of conflict resolution, it is best to speak with your neighbour first. But if that doesn’t work or you’re uncomfortable doing so, we just want to help.

Nara Brenchley Executive Director, Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society

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