RDN urged to address air quality issues now

RDN urged to address air quality issues now

Parksville mayor suggests ban on woodstoves and fireplaces

There is no lower limit at which the air quality will not cause health problems. That’s the message Island Health’s medical officer Paul Hasselback told the Regional District Board at its inaugural regular meeting in Nanaimo Tuesday, Nov. 14., 2017

Hasselback was invited by the RDN board to discuss further the health issues that arise from smoke from wood-burning appliances and wood stoves, and actions the regional district should take.

A Health Canada study has shown ambient fine particulate air pollution, or PM2.5, resulting from wood burning in the winter has strong adverse associations with cardiovascular health.

It affects multiple organs and causes both acute and chronic health effects such as lung cancer, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, and stroke.

“So anything that we can do collectively to improve the quality of air, will reduce poor health outcomes,” Hasselback explained. “I say that because generally, the air quality in the regional district is actually pretty good.”

Hasselback pointed out that about 40 per cent of the population is in some sort of elevated risk group that makes the likelihood of developing a poor outcome higher. He wants the regional district to take preventative actions now.

There are several vocal advocates in the area who are quite concerned about wood smoke in general, said Hasselback.

He advised the RDN to look at developing an effective response to growing air quality concerns in the region.

“If there’s something that all of us share, it is that we breathe the air and we really don’t have control over what is in the air as we breathe it in,” said Hasselback. “So when that air quality is poor, we’re all going to be sharing all that.”

Ministry of Environment air quality meteorologist Earle Plaine was also present to discuss air quality monitoring taking place in the regional district. He explained that PM2.5 are very fine particulates that can’t be seen by the naked eye. The big concern about PM2.5, Plaine said, is that they are able get past the body’s natural defenses and settle in the deep recesses of the body, where they can cause health problems.

Using an emissions inventory done in the Comox Valley, Plaine said, the main PM25 sources are from open burning, land-clearing burning, agricultural burning, forest harvesting burning and space heating.

A study done in Nanaimo in 2010 using global monitoring, an instrument installed in the back of a car paired with a GPS, showed relatively clean air towards the north but some hot spots in the south such as Departure Bay.

In other places in the RDN, in 2013, the areas that typically generated multiple wood stove complaints, said Plaine, were the populated areas in French Creek, Hilliers, and towards the Cedar extension south of Nanaimo. A study done in January on Gabriola Island revealed high emissions coming from wood stoves, said Plaine.

Hasselback suggested some things the RDN can implement to put itself in a better position, such as introducing air quality bylaws that imposes stricter controls on the type and use of wood burning appliances; creating social marketing; and educational campaigns that provide awareness about health effects due to woodstove.

“It’s going to be a challenge for you in the future,” Hasselback told the RDN board. “But here’s an opportunity of being proactive moving forward.”

Parksville mayor and director Marc Lefebvre said after reading all the literature about the harmful health effects of smoke, “I put on my layman’s glasses and I sincerely believe, looking at all these issues cropping up, I think we should ban woodstoves and fireplaces.”

“To me that’s one of the only ways that I think, if we’re going to do anything substantial,” said Lefebvre, who added that in Parkskville, although backyard burning is controlled pretty well, with the “hundreds” of woodstoves and fireplaces in the city, at the present time they do “absolutely very little.”

“Bigger cities have done it… I think the City of Montreal has a seven- or eight-year timeframe that all woodstoves are banned,” said Lefebvre.

For story tips: michael.briones@pqbnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eaglecrest Golf Club plans to operate as a nine-hole course starting April 1. (Eaglecrest Facebook photo)
Eaglecrest Golf Club in Qualicum Beach still plans to have course layout reduced to 9 holes

Town council continues to negotiate lease for 18-hole operation

A rendering of a proposed housing development located across from the beachfront in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Multi-residential development planned across from Qualicum Beach waterfront

Residents raise variety of concerns about project

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
COVID-19: Qualicum Beach baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read