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Letter: Wood smoke worse than car emissions, but let’s reduce both

We have alternatives

Wood smoke worse than car emissions, but let’s reduce both

Both vehicle exhaust and wood smoke are harmful to our health – especially in places like the Cowichan Valley, where inversion layers can hold pollution in the city.

Yes, we should be reducing vehicle use. Pollution from vehicle exhaust is very bad for us. A recent UVic study said diesel exhaust (which is reportedly somewhat similar to wood smoke) led to changes in brain function connectivity. It changed the way regions of the brain interact with each other. Most affected were memory and attention. Most of us want to hang onto those.

But wood smoke is actually worse. It is a far greater source of tiny particles, which cause early deaths from heart attacks and strokes, as well as dementia and more. A Guardian article said wood-burning stoves in urban areas cause nearly half our exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, and can triple the level of harmful indoor pollutants.

It would be great to see Cowichan municipalities introduce ‘no idling’ bylaws, as well as limiting wood stoves in urban centres. In summer, people sit in their cars with the engine and AC on, rather than cooling off under a tree or in a building. During the winter, smokers who can’t smoke in their homes sit in cars with engines and heaters running. There must be a better way.

It is ridiculous to subject children playing or walking to school and elderly people walking to shops to so much pollution, knowing that it causes serious damage. We have alternatives.

Grace Wyatt

North Cowichan