Dashwood-based Aretas Sensor Networks is installing sophisticated wireless outdoor air quality monitoring stations in the Qualicum Beach area to monitor common air pollutants like wood smoke.
With the arrival of cooler fall temperatures many households have begun to heat their homes with wood and this is being reflected in the data being collected by Aretas, said Aretas business development officer Greg Duerksen.
While wood has been used as a fuel world wide throughout history and is still commonly used as a "green" energy, "wood smoke is nowhere near as benign as many people believe," he said.
According to Health Canada, wood smoke contains a range of harmful air pollutants including particulate matter which helps create smog and can travel deep into your lungs, causing breathing and heart problems.
It also includes carbon monoxide, the colourless, odourless gas that is poisonous at high levels, volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which can cause cancer.
"These can negatively impact the heart-related health of people who are physically active and elderly people are particularly sensitive to various environmental contaminants, especially fine particulate matter," he explained in a news release.
"Increased pollution exposures have been associated with increased mortality, and increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits. These visits are primarily due to respiratory tract infections, and the exacerbation of chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema."
Aretas Sensor Networks will be deploying several additional outdoor sensors in the Qualicum Beach area over the next few months. You can view the real time data on their website, www.aretas.ca.