The District of Vanderhoof met with representatives from Prince George to discuss air quality practices and methods of cleaning up what has been labeled the worst air in B.C.
Terry Robert from the Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable and Lana Miller from the Ministry of Environment presented to council some of the Prince George’s best practices on dealing with air quality.
Some of these practices include upgrades to pollution control equipment at mills as well as woodstove exchanges. Many people in the area will be reluctant to give up their wood or pellet stove though since they are considered by many to be efficient or cheap.
The steps the Prince George Air Council is taking mostly include researching, monitoring then educating the public on how they can work together to improve the air quality.
“We learned a lot, especially from the Prince George model,” said Evan Parliament, Vanderhoof’s Chief Administrative Officer. “All our mills would be the most but then there’s other things like farm practices and we spread a lot of gravel and salt on the roads in the winter. This stuff is flying off bridges and the highway and it mixes up with rain and dries and evaporates. It’s an industrial community and coupled with the nasty winters this stuff does find its way into the air.”
Vanderhoof has formed an air quality committee but they haven’t held a meeting yet but a date will be set soon according to Parliament.
The wood stove exchange program in Prince George has resulted in an annual reduction of 20 tonnes of fine particulates according to the delegation.
The B.C. Lung Association released a report on June 5, 2013 stating Vanderhoof had 10.9 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic metre. B.C. Lung Association Program Manager Dr. Menn Biagtan had said that these levels are dangerous.
“There are groups of people that very highly susceptible to the impacts,” said Dr. Biagtan. “The young children, the elderly, those with pre-existing heart or lung conditions…”
The provincial objective is an annual average of 8.0 micrograms and even that can be deadly said Biagtan.
“The lower the number the better, there is no safe number,” she told the Omineca Express last summer. “Even 8.0 doesn’t guarantee it won’t have any health impacts.”
The particulate matter is measured from a device located on top of the Vanderhoof courthouse and can be viewed online at bcairquality.ca.
The amount of particulates in the air increases by almost 50 per cent in the winter months as compared to the summer since there is more residential heating.
The report presented to council from the Ministry of Environment showed that the best way to improve air quality in Vanderhoof would be to find a way to mitigate road dust as this was the biggest contributor to poor air.