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Ten air-quality monitors for Valley to keep track of pollution

Air quality monitors will be used the measure the Cowichan Valley
Air quality monitors will be used the measure the Cowichan Valley's air.
— image credit: Citizen file

State-of-the-art equipment to increase the monitoring of the air quality in the Cowichan Valley is soon to be installed.

The Ministry of Environment committed to supplying 10 purple air monitors, which cost approximately $200 each, for the Valley, and the private sector is supplying six more of the monitors.

Two are coming from the Duncan-based Trillium Environmental, and two more from the Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association.

The monitors use laser beams to detect particles passing by, and provide real-time data on the air quality in specific areas on a website that people can easily access.

The project has been spurred on by the local Fresh Air Cowichan organization, formerly known as the Cowichan Fresh Air Team, in conjunction with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

A statement from FAC said the information will be useful for the public.

“The monitors will be useful for people planning activities in the Valley, and also raise awareness of the issues around air quality in the region,” the statement said.

“We hope to have all the monitors in place within the next three weeks. If anyone wants to volunteer to have a monitor on their property, they can contact freshaircowichan@gmail.com.”

The CVRD released an air shed protective strategy in 2015, noting that hospital admissions for children with respiratory diseases were, on average, 70 per cent higher in the Valley than the rest of B.C. between 1998 and 2012.

The report also found asthma rates were 14 per cent higher and chronic respiratory illness in people over 45 was 50 per cent higher in the Valley.

The geography of the Valley, ringed by mountains, means bad air is often held at ground level at certain times of the year, the report stated.

FAC’s statement also points out wood smoke as one of the main contributors to respiratory issues in the Valley.

“Wood smoke is 12 times more toxic to the body than cigarette smoke, and is called the hidden killer,” the statement said.

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