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About Us

The Gabriola Island Clean Air Society is a legally incorporated non-profit society registered in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Our email address is

To see our live PurpleAir sensor network click here.

Our purposes are:

To promote protection of the air shed on Gabriola Island and Vancouver Island region from smoke and other airborne pollutants.
To work with other organizations including local, provincial and federal governments to improve air quality by identifying current, emerging and future threats that may compromise public health and/or the environment.
To work with organizations and governments to reduce risk from outdoor burning practices, wood smoke from wood burning appliances, and to help develop voluntary initiatives, bylaws, and enforcement recommendations.
To perform educational and outreach functions to increase understanding of these threats to air sheds.

Dramatic reductions in air pollution are needed to keep us healthy

Dr. Michael Brauer from UBC wrote the following piece in the Globe and Mail about air pollution and COVID-19.

Certainly, there has been reduced vehicular traffic and economic activity due to physical distancing. But that doesn’t mean all drivers of pollution have been eliminated. In British Columbia, other major sources include open burning of agricultural and forestry waste, as well as residential wood heating and road dust. The wildfire season is also quickly approaching, bringing with it the potential for severe smoke. And in the past week alone, elevated levels of health-damaging particle air pollution have been measured on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver with authorities poised to issue air-quality advisories. In our interior communities, spring has already brought about multiple air-quality advisories, prompted by the dust that’s unleashed when the snow melts and winter traction materials dry up.Dr. Brauer goes onto note that roughly 800,000 people in B.C. live with chron…

Wood burning is a cultural malady and a "pandemic" in slow motion

The hyper-local nature of wood smoke pollution may make small communities like Gabriola Island BC hotspots for COVID-19.
With COVID-19 spreading rapidly around the world, and awareness of how air pollution may increase the risk of contracting the virus and exacerbate lung conditions for those with the infection, it's clear that wood burning on Gabriola Island and nearby is a cultural malady. Nothing here has changed. Although there is now a ban on outdoor burning, wood stove use is rampant and it is perhaps worse given how many people are working from home, off school, etc.

According to Daniel Bings, with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function. In other words, poor air quality may increase the number of COVID-19 cases and make these cases more severe. In large cities like LA where air pollution is also a major problem, pub…

With wildfire season just around the corner, does it make sense to have fuel on your property?

There are so many contradictions and blindspots associated with burning wood for residential home heating.

People stack large amounts of presumably dry and seasoned wood on their property, and often right beside their homes. If a wildfire started in a place like Gabriola Island, this could be the perfect storm for disaster.

Here's an interesting example of a firewood seller who delivers to the island. He'll remove brush and debris while dropping off more fuel (wood).

Risk from air pollution exposure and justice: Citizen science monitoring provides the tools needed to better understand these issues

Take a look at the following. It shows how "Air pollution can vary by as much as eight times within the span of a single city block. The air quality data produced by the nearest monitoring station didn’t reflect what Historic West End residents [Charlotte, North Carolina] were actually breathing."

See the story here.

Pellet stoves are big polluters too

In case you harbour the belief that pellet stoves are clean and green. This pattern of high air pollution in Kamloops at a location on the north shore is driven by a neighbour with a newer pellet stove.

"Pollution could be damaging your brain"

GICAS director Dr. Michael Mehta's research is mentioned in the Globe and Mail in an article on air pollution and brain development. “While research and regulations tend to focus on vehicular emissions, Dr. Mehta noted that the largest source of air pollution in many rural Canadian communities is biomass burning. In Gabriola Island, B.C., where he lives part of the year and where many heat their homes with wood stoves and fireplaces, Dr. Mehta said he was surprised to find air-pollution measurements that were significantly worse than in the country’s urban centres.”

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