Shawnigan Lake – The recent appearance of articles on wood smoke has been gratifying. I sincerely hope this leads to action.
While a battle is waged with the province over contaminated soil, the air we breathe every few seconds is a dumping ground. With much being said about the desire for local control of fresh water, there is no protection of the air that enters our bodies constantly.
Some jurisdictions have been regulating wood burning for decades, but as the health impacts have become more widely known, many more have jumped on board to protect the health of their residents.
The U.S. EPA estimates that the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke is 12 times higher than from an equal amount of second hand cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke has been dealt with to a large degree while wood smoke remains in our air with little that can be done without the cooperation of local officials.
My suggestion is to ban outdoor burning entirely and to require proper operation of wood heating appliances. When even an older, non-certified wood stove is operated properly, at high temperature and using dry fuel, there should be no visible chimney smoke once the burning cycle has established itself.
As someone who farms and who cycles almost exclusively for transportation, it is not practical for me to cease strenuous activity outdoors which is recommended during air quality advisories. Besides, the particulate matter is so small it comes indoors. No resident should have to beg for fresh air at home.