Vanderhoof places fourth in B.C. for air pollution

Vanderhoof is ranked behind Houston, Courtney, and Port Alberni for the highest number of smoky days in the province last year.

The concentration of particulate matter as big as one-fifth of a human hair’s diameter (PM10) — such as road dust and pollen — as well as those that are one-quarter of PM10’s diameter in size (PM2..5) — such as combustion particles from wood burning — are measured in Vanderhoof by a monitor located on the roof of the local courthouse.

Vanderhoof is found to be the fourth smokiest community in B.C. during 2015, according to the Ministry of Environment.

Partnering with air quality and public health experts from the University of British Columbia and BC Centre for Disease Control, the MOE discussed “What is in the air?” in a public forum hosted by BC Lung Association at the Nechako Senior Friendship Centre on Nov. 22.

One of 23 towns identified and monitored for their wood smoke concerns, Vanderhoof is ranked behind Houston, Courtney, and Port Alberni for the highest number of smoky days in the province last year.

The concentration of particulate matter as big as one-fifth of a human hair’s diameter (PM10) — such as road dust and pollen — as well as those that are one-quarter of PM10’s diameter in size (PM2..5) — such as combustion particles from wood burning — are measured in Vanderhoof by a monitor located on the roof of the local courthouse.

In 2015, Vanderhoof’s levels are found to exceed the provincial government’s daily and annual objectives for PM2.5, and the daily objective for PM10.

While there are no safe level of exposure to polluted air — government policies are aimed to improve air quality as much as possible — Vanderhoof is still one of the cleaner parts of the world, as well as within North America, said Michael Brauer, a UBC expert on air quality and public health.

“It’s something that chips away at our life expectancy bit by bit, like lack of exercise or bad diet,” Brauer said.

In addition to causing chronic lung diseases and strokes, air pollution has shown to also affect the brain, he added, referencing a recent study.

In Vanderhoof during fall and winter, the most significant source of polluted air is found to be residential wood burning, and road dust during spring and fall. An air advisory in the community was issued by the Ministry of Environment on Dec. 7 due to still air and poor dispersion, and was then cancelled by Dec. 9 as wind speeds increased.

Notified of the 2015 results earlier this year, the District of Vanderhoof is looking into conducting a door-to-door wood stove survey in the community.

The survey will collect data on the number of wood stoves in town, whether the wood stoves have emissions certification, wood burning habits, and general feedback on local air quality.

The information will provide a good start for Vanderhoof’s potential new wood burning bylaw, which is in discussion by the district’s environment committee, said CAO Tom Clement. For the ministry, the collected data will help staff to investigate local wood stove exchange programs, provide targeted education, and understand the distribution area of the emission source.

Scheduled for the coming late January is a mobile monitor driven around the neighbourhoods of Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof by a Master’s student studying occupational and environmental health in UBC, said Sarah Henderson, BCCDC’s senior environmental health scientist. The drive-around will allow the ministry to better understand the quality of different residential air pockets in the district; Courtney, Cumberland, Whistler, and Pemberton are the other monitored-non-monitored community pairs that will be studied further through the driving tours.

Provincial wood stove regulations were changed in November this year to reduce smoke smoke from home heating, according to the MOE. The new regulation requires almost all wood burning appliances sold in the province to be certified to meet emissions standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2015, or equivalent standards set by the Canadian Standards Association in 2010.

Just Posted

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Bears face Hawks, Bruins, Flyers and Bulldogs

Grizzlies lose narrowly to place second out of seven Atom teams

New garage for SAR command truck, equipment

Mobile unit and garage project to increase efficiency, reduce response time

UPDATE: Mount Milligan Mine temporarily suspends operations

There have not been any layoffs at this stage

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Complaint against Prince George RCMP in death of Wet’suwet’en man

Thirty-five year old Dale Culver died while in Prince George RCMP custody last summer.

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington on Vancouver Island

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, vehicles buried under more than three feet of snow

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

Most Read