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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.

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.”

DIY solar furnace event


Gabriola Island currently has the worst air quality in North America

Thank in large part to people who burn yard waste, and still operate their wood stoves in late April, Gabriola Island currently has the worst air quality in North America.

The 232 micrograms/m3 reading on the map is our island. This level of PM2.5 is almost ten times the provincial maximum based on a 24 hours average.

Do N95 masks work to protect you and your family from wildfire smoke?

Dr. Michael Mehta of TRU wearing a Vogmask. Yes, I've heard the jokes about Darth Vader and Silence of the Lambs.

Over the past two years people in many parts of British Columbia have been exposed to unusually high levels of particulate pollution from wildfires.

The messaging from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and public health officials from Interior Health and other publicly funded health care providers, has been mixed and noticeably negative about the benefits of wearing N95 respirator masks as a risk reduction measure.
In a recent article by Ashley Legassic of CFJC Today, she quoted Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi as follows: 
"They require fitting," he says. "In other words, it has to be tight on the face. So people with facial hair, small children and people who cannot fit (the mask) properly... will not benefit from these masks and there are alternative ways and more effective ways of protecting people from these parti…

A reminder of how good our Purple Air network truly is

With air quality changing rapidly, and awareness of the risks from air pollution increasing daily, here's a handy reminder of how good the Purple Air network truly is.

In Kamloops, British Columbia, the provincial government has only one air monitoring station for the entire region. It is located downtown on West Victoria Street, and incidentally away from some of the largest industrial polluters.

A Purple Air sensor happens to be co-located near this provincial air monitoring station, and it is within 200m of it and at a similar elevation from the ground.

Here's what the provincial readings look like recently for PM2.5 levels.

And here is a graph from the co-located Purple Air sensor.

If you focus on the graphs between April 4-10 (the Purple Air graphing package only shows one week at a time), you'll see that the pattern is virtually identical and readings are extremely close.