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Letter: No safe level of air pollution

It can and does harm every one of us that breathes this polluted smoky air

No safe level of air pollution

Re: Smoky chimneys

It’s not only people with respiratory infections that need to be concerned about air pollution in the Valley. We all should be. It can and does harm every one of us that breathes this polluted smoky air, especially when the inversion layer is active – just not so quickly we’d necessarily know what to blame.

In 2021 the World Health Organization updated its limits for air pollution. Scientists said there appears to be no level of air pollution that does not cause damage. I would urge our local municipal councils to stop allowing wood-burning stoves within city limits (except perhaps during power outages), out of regard for the safety of children and teenagers walking to school, and all those walking, jogging or biking on our streets. The inversion layer often prevents pollution from rising or being swept away. We must instead reduce it. Outlawing most wood-burning within the city could be a good start. (See the November 2021 article in the Guardian: ‘WHO slashes guideline limits on air pollution from fossil fuels’.)

I’m not sure why Island Health promotes the use of pellet stoves. They also burn wood and therefore create pollution. A recent Fifth Estate show on CBC showed that the pellet industry not only uses wood waste, they also cut down old-growth forests to make into pellets. It is hardly beneficial for biodiversity or real sustainability, as well as our health.

Grace Wyatt

North Cowichan